Category Archives: General Mathematics

10,000 Boomers Turning 65 Everyday

The front-end of the baby boomers began to turn 65 in 2011 and they will continue to turn 65 until 2029. I started to wonder how many boomers are turning 65 every day? The Social Security Administration estimates that 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day (source). As I thought about, I should be able to estimate the number of people that are turning 65 every day by examining graphs of the US population and birth rate (Figure 1). It is a nice Fermi problem and the subject of this post. Continue reading

 
Posted in General Mathematics | 3 Comments

Nonlinear Piecewise Function for Stellar Luminosity vs Mass

A reader mentioned to me that the Wikipedia has an good article on stellar luminosity versus stellar mass– the article is a good one. I thought I would compare the empirical relationship shown in the Wikipedia with a couple of different data sets that I found on the web. I was motivated to perform this analysis because: (1) I have been doing some reading on exoplanets, and luminosity is important when it comes to exoplanet temperature; and (2) I am presenting a seminar on Mathcad to our engineering staff, and this application provides me a nice demonstration on how to compute nonlinear piecewise functions. Continue reading

 
Posted in Astronomy, General Mathematics | 1 Comment

Flattening the Golden Gate Bridge Deck

I recently read a post on Quora about the day that the arc of the Golden Gate Bridge was flattened by the load of a large number of people – some reports stated that as many as 300K people were present at the event. The bridge was opened opened to this huge throng of people as part of its golden anniversary. This was the first time I had heard of this event. Continue reading

 
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Decision Making Using the Analytic Hierarchy Process

I gave a seminar a few days ago on System Engineering – a favorite subject of mine. One of the topics covered during my System Engineering seminar was decision making. Specifically, I speak about how I want trade studies to be performed in my group. I have participated in hundreds of trade studies, and I have used many different approaches. Continue reading

 
Posted in General Mathematics, Management | Leave a comment

Mathcad Solution To XKCD Problem

XKCD is a great comic strip by Randall Munroe that takes a quirky look at the world of science. Randall recently posted a set of questions for a substitute teacher to pose to a math class that were interesting and attracted the attention of some problem-solving enthusiasts. Continue reading

 
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Propane Tank Math

I have used propane for years with my barbecue grill, but I have never used it for heating a space. While at university many decades ago, I worked in construction, and we used propane heaters to make working in partially-completed homes more comfortable in the winter. I went to Home Depot and purchased the propane heater shown in Figure 1. It is rated to put out 30K to 40K BTU/hr. This should provide enough heat to warm my garage so I can work in it comfortably. I like the fact that it is small, and I can easily store it during the summer. I have too much stuff to manage as it is, and I do not need any more big stuff. Continue reading

 
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Yet More Gift Wrapping

My sister and I talk about these practical math problems all the time. Here is another good video that covers gift wrapping with a mathematical slant. Continue reading

 
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Old Way Of Specifying Phone Wire Diameter

I still work on old copper phone networks, and today I encountered wire specified as "300 pound". I had never seen a specification like this for phone wire before. As I thought about it, this specification seemed very similar to how the diameter of thread is still specified, which is by the weight in grams of a 9000 meters of fiber – a unit of measure called the denier. Continue reading

 
Posted in Electronics, General Mathematics, History of Science and Technology | Leave a comment

Letter Folding for Envelopes

I still occasionally write paper letters. In fact, I had some letters to write the other day, and I realized that was doing a bit of math when I folded the letters for placement into standard business envelopes that was worth discussing here. Figure 1 shows the business envelope that I normally use. Continue reading

 
Posted in General Mathematics, Origami | 2 Comments

Tree Height Measuring Example

I have been testing a number of Android applications that are intended to measure the size of objects knowing their range or vice versa. One application that I have found particularly useful is called Baumhöhenmesser – Tree Height Meter (my translation) – which is an application written by a German developer. I have found this application particularly useful, and I thought I would review its operation here. It is part of a suite of Android applications intended for forestry management. This app makes excellent use of the Android's ability to measure angles. Continue reading

 
Posted in General Mathematics, Geometry | 3 Comments