* Note to TSA, in case they’re reading: Not really.

Found via Ian Bremmer, via Lisa Goldman.



“2017” in balloons at my local Publix. This is as well as I could arrange and photograph them before the people in charge of the balloons shoo’d me away.

Happy 2017!

Rather than write about whether or not 2016 was a terrible year (John Oliver summed it up far better than I could; note that there’s swearing) or a great one (hey, I landed a great new job featuring a significant pay raise and took Anitra to both the Philippines and the United Kingdom), I spent an hour this morning putting together a set of mini-programs that explore some of the interesting properties of the number 2017.

That’s right: I spent the morning after a pleasantly boozy New Year’s Eve doing programming and math. Because that’s how I roll.

I was inspired by TJ Wei, who posted an article titled 2017 is not just another prime number, in which he states the following about the number 2017:

  • 2017π (rounds to nearest integer) is a prime
  • 2017e (rounds to nearest integer ) is a prime.
  • The sum of all odd primes up to 2017 is a prime number, i.e. 3+5+7+11+…+2017 is a prime number.
  • The sum of the cube of gap of primes up to 2017 is a prime number. That is (3-2)^3 + (5-3)^3 + (7-5)^3 + (11-7)^3 + … + (2017-2011)^3 is a prime number.
  • The prime number before 2017 is 2017+(2-0-1-7), which makes it a sexy prime, and the prime after 2017 is 2017+(2+0+1+7). 2017 itself is of course equal to  2017+(2*0*1*7)
  • Insert 7 into any two digits of 2017, it is still a prime number, i.e. 27017, 20717, 20177 are all primes. Plus, 20177 is also a prime number
  • Since all digits of 2017 is less than 8, it can be viewed as an octal. 2017 is still a prime number as an octal.
  • 2017 can be written as a sum of three cubes of primes, i,e,  p^3 +q^3 +r^3 for some primes p, q, r.
  • 2017 can be written as a sum of cubes of five distinct integers.
  • 2017 can be written as  x^2+y^2, x^2+2y^2, x^2+3y^2, x^2+4y^2 x^2+6y^2, x^2+7y^2, x^2+8y^2, x^2+9y^2 (for positive integers x, y)
  • 20170123456789 is also a prime
  • the 2017th prime number is 17539 and 201717539 is also a prime.
  • Let p=2017, then both (p+1)/2 and (p+2)/3 are prime numbers.
  • The first ten digits of the decimal expansion of the cubic root of 2017 contains all different digits 0~9. 2017 is the least integer has this property.
  • 2017 = 2^11 – 11th prime

In case you’d forgotten your math, a prime number is a whole number that is:

  • greater than 1
  • has only 2 whole-number factors (that is, it can be divided by only 2 whole numbers): 1 and itself

2, 3, 5, and 7 are primes; 4, 6, 8, and 9 are not.

Prime numbers have always been interesting to mathematicians, and they have all sort of interesting uses, including cryptography, which is useful for keeping things like your files, communications, and your e-commerce transactions secure:

Rather than take Wei’s word on his fun facts about 2017, I decided to test a few of his statements using SageMath. The “Sage” in SageMath is short for “System for Algebra and Geometry Experimentation) and it’s an online system that lets you perform calculations and share your results.

For the statements about the number 2017 that I tested, Wei is correct! Perhaps I’ll test the others later and update my post.

You can see my mini-programs here; feel free to get your own SageMath account (it’s free) and test his other statements!

As for me, it’s time to head off to the gym. Happy new year, everybody!

Also worth watching

Here’s funny math guy Matt Parker, the Standup Mathematician, sharing 17 facts about the number 2017 in 2 minutes, 17 seconds:


I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, but…

by Joey deVilla on December 31, 2016


Click the photo to see the book on its Amazon.com page.




A drawn-on beard


You may think that a drawn-on beard would be an ineffective disguise for a robbery, but it worked well enough to fool the witnesses at a gas station robbery in Pasco County, the epicenter of Florida weirdness. The initial reports said that the robber (pictured above in a still photo taken from security camera footage) was a man, but the search has since expanded the search to include men and women.

A trash bag and bucket


Meanwhile, in Miami, a thief who broke into a religious store to steal some expensive pigeons (wait, what?) wore a trash bag as a makeshift poncho and a bucket on his head, presumably as a disguise. “The way he took the pigeons was very rough,” said one of the store’s owners, and the handling got rougher. While climbing over the fence around the store to make his escape, he tumbled, cage in hand, to the ground.

A tutu


A short bike ride from my home, at the farmer’s market on Fletcher Avenue, a tutu-clad thief broke in and proceeded to enjoy some fruit and soft drinks. The police description of the suspect reads “white male, thin build, possibly dressed in a cheerleading costume, wearing a TuTu [sic], possibly wearing a wig.”




Astronomer Vera Rubin, sometime in the 1970s.
Photo credit: Carnegie Institute of Washington.

Vera Rubin, the astronomer whose work led to the theory of dark matter, died yesterday, December 25, 2016.

Dark matter — that 27% of the mass and energy in the observable universe that we can’t observe directly — is something we know about thanks to astronomer Vera Rubin’s work on the rotation of galaxies. She observed that stars on the outside of galaxies were moving at the same speeds as stars closer in. This shouldn’t have been the case: they should be moving much more slowly, just as the outer planets of a solar system take longer to orbit their star than the planets closer in. Either classical Newtonian physics doesn’t apply at the galactic scale or that galaxies must contain a lot more mass than we can account for through direct observation. We refer to that invisible mass as dark matter, a scientific phrase that gets used even in non-scientific circles as a colloquialism.


Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory, 1965.
Photo credit: Carnegie Institute of Washington.

From NPR’s report on her passing:

In addition to her groundbreaking work on dark matter, Vera Rubin was a pioneering advocate of women in the sciences.

She was passionate about astronomy from the age of 10. Rubin once explained to an interviewer that it’s not like she was planning on breaking into an all-male world.

“I didn’t know a single astronomer, male or female,” she said in the interview, republished in her book Bright Galaxies, Dark Matters. “I didn’t think that all astronomers were male, because I didn’t know.”

But as her career advanced, the scarcity of women in her field was readily apparent. According to a profile of Rubin from Cosmic Horizons, she was the only astronomy major to graduate from the women’s college Vassar in 1948.

She was rebuffed by Princeton’s astronomy program because it didn’t accept women, a policy in place until 1975. Instead, she studied at Cornell and Georgetown — where, she notes, she started her Ph.D. program at the age of 23, with one young child and another on the way.

She was the first woman allowed to observe at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory, the Carnegie Institution says.

Rubin, who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and awarded the National Medal of Science, continually pushed for women to be admitted to scientific institutions and organizations.

“I live and work with three basic assumptions,” Rubin once wrote:

“1) There is no problem in science that can be solved by a man that cannot be solved by a woman.

“2) Worldwide, half of all brains are in women.

“3) We all need permission to do science, but, for reasons that are deeply ingrained in history, this permission is more often given to men than to women.”

Rubin also advocated for scientific literacy in the world at large. “We need senators who have studied physics and representatives who understand ecology,” she said in a commencement address in 1996.

Want to know a little more about dark matter and Vera Rubin’s contribution to our understanding of the universe? You’ll want to watch the 13th and final episode of the Neil deGrasse Tyson version of Cosmos. If you want to jump right to dark matter and Vera Rubin, start at around the 13:20 mark:

We lost a great mind yesterday with the death of Vera Rubin. From her, we learned that there’s more to the universe than we thought, that we need more women in science, and most importantly, that you can find amazing things when you do the math.



“You know what, Ghost of Christmas Future? This sucks.