Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Daddy With Too Much Time

The other morning I woke up to the sound of my daughter (who will be seven in a few weeks) in the bathroom. I called out “Amanda, what are you doing?” She didn’t answer, so I ran in there to find her with a fistful of hair and a pair of scissors. “Look Daddy,” she said proudly, “I cut my hair!” They weren’t that many strands and she only cut off about three inches (her hair is long.) I honestly can’t tell where she cut them from. Does that mean it’s time for her to get a haircut?

We had a street fair the other day. There was a flash downpour, so the rides were temporarily closed. We stood there for twenty minutes while my daughter kept yelling “I want to go on the horsey!” (Carousel) “I want to go on the horsey!” One of my friends was working the carousel, and promised her she could be the first one on when the rain stopped. As soon as it did she waved us over and Amanda was the first one on. She stood on it, looked up at the horses, and said “I don’t WANT horsey, get me down!” All I can do is give a fond sigh.

The other night my son asked me why pi goes on forever. I said that first of all, we don’t know that it goes on forever, we just have not found an end or a repeat yet, (scientists have divided to 1,241,100,000,000 decimal places so far,) because we had a base-ten numbering system. I then explained what bases are, and why we use base ten. (To quote Tom Lehrer, “But don’t panic: base eight is just like base ten, really… if you’re missing two fingers!”) So the next morning in the shower I wondered: is there any base that pi can be resolved in? What about a base pi numbering system, where pi would equal one, two would be 2pi, three would be 3pi, and so on. The problem is that the “10” place would then be pi squared, which is somewhere between 3 and 4 pi. So in that sense, it wouldn’t work. I was thinking that maybe that would be a sign of superior intelligence in the galaxy, if they had a base-pi numbering system, as that would be a constant throughout the universe, as opposed to the number of digits on beings' hands, and if it wouldn't fit into our system of mathamatics, humanity would have to learn an entire new way of thinking. In a wonderful moment of synchronicity, my friend Julianne posted a quote from Buckminster Fuller on her fb page:

"To how many places does nature carry out PI when she makes each successive bubble in the white-cresting surf of each successive wave before nature finds out that PI can never be resolved?... And at what moment in the making of each separate bubble in Universe does nature decide to terminate her eternally frustrated calculating and instead turn out a fake sphere? I answered myself that I don't think nature is using PI or any of the irrational fraction constants of physics."

I like that I can enjoy looking at the universe from both angles.




Knitting Painter Woman said...

Perhaps NO Daddy can have too much time. You are thinking with and about your children. All day, I sit with people of various ages whose parents failed to do that. Good for you. (And my mind spazzed with that pi in base 3 stuff. ;-)

Aravis said...

I can just picture the carousel scene. :0)

You hurt my head when you started discussing the calculation of pi from various bases, though. *G*