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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Radical Holiday

"Hi, I'm Troy McClure.  You may remember me from such educational filmstrips as. . . . "Two Minus Three Equals Negative Fun!"
--The Simpsons

This morning's newscrawl announced that math fans (apparently there are some) would be celebrating "Square Root Day" today.  This made the Solipsist sit up, put down his coffee cup, and rub his sleep-crusty eyes.  Did he just see what he thought he saw?  Could there really be such a thing as "Square Root Day"?  And if so, why doesn't he have that day off?  At any rate, this clearly called for some investigative digging.  Sloppists (or, "Slops" as FOS has suggested) would want the facts, and the facts will be provided.

As you may have figured out, Square Root Day occurs when the year (the last two digits, anyway) is the square of the month and date, e.g., 3/3/09 (3 x 3 = 9).  Square Root Days occur a handful of times every century:  The last one was 2/2/04, the next will be 4/4/16, and so on through the 21st century.

The holiday is the--"invention" seems like the wrong word--let's say "Brainchild" of one Ron Gordon, a math instructor from Redwood City, California.  His hands heavily weighed down by time, Gordon first drew inspiration for the holiday on September 9, 1981 (i.e., 9/9/81).  Since then, he has taken to celebrating Square Root Day with his students, teaching them how to tie square knots, drinking root beer out of square glasses, possibly cutting carrots (i.e., root vegetables) into square shapes, etc.  (YNSHC swears he's not making this up.)

Math-related holidays are all around.  We just had 2/3/08 (2 to the third power being 8).  If, however, you missed out on celebrating that and Square Root Day, mark your calendars for a week from Saturday, when you and your inner math nerd can celebrate "Pi Day" (3/14).  One imagines you celebrate by eating a lot of pie.  Or is that too "on the nose"?

1 comment:

  1. LOL!! hehe, hehe... he said "Pie Day". I rather like the thought of that. A mathematical justification for indulging in coconut custard cream. Our intrepid author and fellow Slops may be interested to know, for nostalgia's sake, that I also owe my devotion to this particular type of Entenmann's indulgence to his parents. As children, we'd spend many a Friday evening having tea & coconut custard cream pie while watching "Incredible Hulk" reruns. (Don't ask about the Mego dolls, though!)

    Ah, memories! "Mmmm...coconut pie..."