Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

"If by read, you mean imagined a naked lady, then yes." - Peter, The Family Guy


Moose by the side of the road. Moose hate math, which is the main reason that moose don't control the world.

So, I got up the other morning at 4AM. This wasn’t the usual for me, but it was a work thing. So, as I walked to my car, I saw the brilliant full Moon rising over the trees. In the southeast. Not much unusual. During the day, I saw the Moon transit across the southern sky (most things are south of here). When I finally got home at 7PM that night, I saw the moon still suspended in the sky. Oh, and by the way, it was in the far northwest. On Friday, I saw the Sun at it’s meridian height (noon) in the south, with the Moon due north.

So, during the day I saw the full Moon make a complete circle in the sky. Not something you’d ever see in Peoria. Or Pocatello. Or even Pascagoula.

But you can see it in Fairbanks.

Being the inquisitive person that I am, I decided one day to draw out a model of why this might be. If you take the axial tilt of the Earth (23 degrees) and the orbital period of the Moon (28 or so days) and the distance of the Earth from the Moon (about seven inches) you get a big wad of nonsense, although I will tell you that if you want to draw a model of the Earth/Moon system, start with a really small scale, unless you have paper that’s large enough to park a car on.

Since I don’t have paper that’s large enough to park a car on, I used an Alaskan’s best friend: duct tape. I then used an Alaskan’s second best friend: a blue tarp. I then had a scale model of the Earth-Moon system that was useful. Then The Mrs. came home and parked on my model. Since it was about –40F out, I knew that I had essentially one other option: to use actual math. That was way better than explaining to The Mrs. how the coffee can duct taped to the tarp was the Earth and the baby food jar ducted taped to the tarp was the Moon and that I’d like her to be cold for the sake of science.

So, I’d have to take pencil to paper on this one.

I’ve been a fan of sine since I was twelve. I’ve also been a fan of cosine, too. In fact, I had the basic geometric relationships memorized before I took geometry. How, you might ask? Naked women.

When I was a kid, (B.C., as in Before Cinemax) about the only way to see a naked woman was to get into a stash of somebody’s old Playboys. There was, however, another way. I was always a fan of Mad Magazine, but by the time I hit 10 or so, it seemed to be a bit, well, childish. I bought a copy of The National Lampoon out of curiosity, and my twelve-year-old sense of humor was well rewarded.

Not only did it feature well-written humor by the likes of P.J. O’Rourke, but it had another stunning addition. It featured lots of pictures of naked women. This made National Lampoon the best magazine ever. I could buy it, and even carry it openly around adults and yet it was chock full of that most elusive (at least then) sight a twelve-year-old boy could imagine: hot chicks who were naked.

These pictures were often in “Foto Funnies” which made some sort of joke using naked women. In one of these, a naked woman pointed out that if you touched her knee she’d say “OH” which meant, obviously, opposite over hypotenuse, which is, of course, sine.

In the next panel, she indicated that if you kissed her neck she’d say, “AH” which meant adjacent over hypotenuse, or cosine.

I think our educational system makes poor use of the basic drive of the twelve-year-old male to see naked females. If there’s a way to get our educational system out of the doldrums in which it finds itself, I’d say that naked women might be a good option. We could teach eleven-year-olds the Special Theory of Relativity (a bit easier than the General) with the right Foto Funnies.

So, three years before I took geometry I had these basic functions memorized. So, now when I was attempting to figure out how we could see the moon move a complete circle, I had at my disposal how to derive and use these basic relationships. So, armed with math, basic published data on the Moon and the Earth system and the longitude of Fairbanks I came to the conclusion that you can see the Moon do a complete circle in the sky (and some times never see it) because we’re so darn high on the Earth.

Which, I guess, didn’t require math at all, so, never mind.

9 Comments:

Blogger Woofwoof said...

So you think the Moon spins around the Earth? Shhhh, don't tell the Pope.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Coldfoot said...

You only read National Lampoon for the math, and I only read National Geographic for the maps.

We have more in common than I thought.

12:03 AM  
Blogger mtheiler said...

Got a lot of time on my hands and though I'd look around some Alaskan blogs, there are some pretty nice ones out there. I need to do some work on mine, I just put it up.


I help run an awesome fishing camp on the Nushagak river. The predictions in 2006 for the Nushagak river are the best in a decade. The largest run of king salmon in Alaska!

We have had people hooking onto sixty or more fish in a day. The king salmon fishing there is the best in the world, no question.

Can someone post a comment on their experiences on this river. I would love any feedback on fishing for king salmon on the Nushagak

Anyone with questions please feel free to email me or visit my web sites or blog.

Nushagak King Salmon Fishing
Alaska Hunting & Fishing

8:38 AM  
Blogger Jonathan B. Horen said...

I'd've liked to hear her say tangent

9:57 AM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

now I have a headache. Don't worry it's just an acute one.

12:49 PM  
Blogger GreyGuy said...

Hey look, you got spam that can break through the word verification...

Anyways, not even National Lampoon could have helped me pass high school math.

3:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

woof,
I think he heard about it once from this Galileo guy. Not sure he was interested.

coldfoot,
Yeah, the maps. It had maps?

mtheiler,
While you look to be a fine Alaskan, my readers would be much more interested if you offered free trips to the host of the site. Not that I'm asking, or anything.

jonathan,
She did say something about tangent. I have no idea what it was.

duck,
Please, stop being obtuse. Ouch. That was painful. Besides, I was mainly studiously examining curves. Thank heavens Newton showed us how to find the area under a curve! (Blessed, blessed calculus)

blample,
Well, not so much spam as a guy (near as I can figure) attempting promotion on a one on one basis. If it gets me free trips, well, I can be bought. A hit weasel?

Well if Nat Lamp wouldn't work, I've no suggestions. Twas loads and loads of coffee that got me through the last math course I took (Numerical Methods for Counting on Toes), and the large-printing Valedictorian I sat next to.

12:12 AM  
Blogger Aaron the Truck Driver said...

Man you were lucky.

I got stuck with the sears catalog and sunday newspaper advertisments.

Thusly my math skills are badly.

Have you ever been to Glacier Bay?
And have i asked this question before?

9:35 AM  
Blogger John said...

aaron,
Heh, what they show in the paper!

No, and no.

11:01 PM  

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