Thursday, April 30, 2009

281. Creation and perfect numbers

In math, a "perfect number" is a number that is equal to the sum of its proper factors. (A proper factor of a number is any positive integer that divides evenly into that number besides itself.) The proper factors of 6 are 1, 2, 3 and 1+2+3=6, so 6 is a perfect number. If you add up the proper factors of 28 you get 1+2+4+7+14=28, so 28 is a perfect number.

The first eight perfect numbers are 6; 28; 496; 8,128; 33,550,336; 8,589,869,056; 13,743,8691,328; 2,305,843,008,139,952,128. As you can tell, they are far between. Any even perfect number will end in a 6 or an 8, and will be a triangular number (a number that works for setting up bowling pins). We don't know if there are any odd numbers; no one has found any, but no one has proven there aren't any. We do know that if there is one, it would have to be larger than 10^300.

6, the first perfect number is important in religion. According to Berashit, G-d created the world in 6 days. Is this a coincedence? Saint Augustine (354-430) wrote "Six is a number perfect in itself, and not because G-d created all things in six days; rather, the converse is true. G-d created all things in six days because the number is perfect."

This year we celebrated Birchat Hachama, a holiday that comes once every 28 years, when, according to Jewish tradition, the sun is at the same point as it was at creation. So the sun goes through a 28 year cycle, a cycle that is 28 times as long as it takes the earth to go around the sun. Is it possible that G-d made it this way because 28 is a perfect number?

So now, can anyone tell something in creation that centers around the number 496?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

280. News story out of Alaska

(copied from the internet news)

Alaska school punishes students for taunting moose

Print Tue Apr 21, 10:19 pm ET

PALMER, Alaska – Eighth-graders at an Alaska school have been disciplined for taunting and frightening a moose so severely it suffered a fatal injury.

School district spokeswoman Catherine Esary says the physical education class at Colony Middle School in Palmer was let outside Monday before teachers realized a moose was on the grounds.

A teacher witnessed the taunts. Esary wouldn't say what the students did.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters says the moose's panic prompted the animal to throw itself into a wall repeatedly, which caused its death.

Esary cited privacy concerns in not saying how many students were involved or how they were punished.

Monday, April 13, 2009

279. White House Seder

The seder at the White House used Hagaddahs printed by Maxwell House coffee. I read some comment that the White House could certaintly get something nicer. I disagree. I think the Maxwell House Hagaddahs are an American minhag. Lots of American Jews, myself included, grew up with them. The covers changed over the years; the ones we used were red and yellow.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

278. Earthquake Tuesday

According to the Anchorage Daily News:
A shallow earthquake strongly shook a large swath of Alaska. The magnitude 4.7 quake struck at 12:13 p.m. Tuesday and was widely felt in southcentral parts of the state. The earthquake was centered 20 miles north of Anchorage, where it was accompanied with a loud boom. The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center says the quake also was felt in other communities, including Wasilla and Palmer. Monitors at the center say the temblor was felt in a large area because it was fairly shallow, about 16 miles deep. The center says there are no reports of injury or damage and no tsunami is expected from the quake.

According to the New York Times:

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

277. latest news out of Alaksa

Mt. Redoubt has been having lots of eruptions. The ash only came to Anchorage once, and it was not a lot. You cold see it in the air as it fell and the air smelled like sulfur. Some other areas got a lot more than we did. A lot of flights were cancelled in and out of Anchorage.

A bill passed in the Alaska House of Representatives to abolish daylight savings time here. It is on its way to the senate. DST really is pretty pointless here. And of we did away with it, Shobbos would only go to about 1 am Sunday morning in July.

The House also passed a bill that would do away with Groundhog Day in AK an d have Marmot Day instead. There are no groundhogs here, but we do have a few species of marmots. We would not give the marmot any weather-predicting abilities, but would add marmot trinkets to the other stuff available as souvenirs.

People have been charging Palin with ridiculous charges of improprieties. They all end up being dismissed, but not until after she has to pay a lawyer to respond. So far she has had over half a million dollars in legal bills. The latest ethics violation charge: Palin wore clothes with the "Arctic Cat" logo to the start of the Iron Dog snowmachine race. Arctic Cat is a company that makes snowmachines and is her husband's sponsor. The person who filed the complaint said it was abusing her position. Palin said she id not have a deal to wear the clothes; she wore them because they are warm and the weather was cold.

The convictions against ex-senator Ted Stevens were thrown out of federal court because prosecutors hid evidence in his favor. However, he was convicted a few days before the elections last November. After 40 years as senator, he lost the election, although it was pretty close. He would almost definitely have won if he had not been found guilty. At least it looks like they will not be changing the name of Ted Stevens International Airport.

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