Sunday, March 06, 2005

A Couple of Noodles Short

So I am sitting and watching the Globe Trekker show on PBS (this show totally rocks and you should definitely check it out, especially if you like seeing other parts of the world and different cultures but aren't so keen on the gastrointestinal issues that accompany it) enjoying a show on Ecuador and the Galapagos and totally wishing I was there rather than here.

Then they do a little 7 minute bit at the end about Taipei. There is a guy who is making noodles by starting with one long piece and then dividing it in half to make two pieces and keeps repeating this. So he starts counting 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 128, ... , 512 , ... , 2048 , ... 8124. At first I am thinking wow, that is pretty cool to make such thin noodles. Then I am thinking wait, 8124, that doesn't sound right.

I start with the fact that 2^10 equals 1024. This is a fact that everyone should know, but somehow most don't. If you didn't know it, memorize it now! How anyone should be allowed to graduate high school without knowing this is beyond me. They make you memorize state capital which is totally worthless (when have you ever wanted to visit a state legislature and what else is important about a state capital than that?) and yet people don't know that 2^10 =1024. 1024 almost equals 10^3 which allows you to quickly change between base 10 and base 2. Now that comes in handy all the time. All the time I tell you, so don't try and tell me that you never once had reason to do such a thing in your head.

But, anyway I digress. I calculate in my head 1024 * 2 = 2048 * 2 = 4096 * 2 = 8192. 8192 not 8124. So, the moral of this story is that you should not believe that Taiwanese are better at math than Americans. Or maybe you should believe that they are smarter than Americans and more devious. That the noodle maker realized that the American tourists were not going to discover his mathematical error and that he is going to try and charge them for an extra 68 noodles without anyone being the wiser. I am not sure which is the case but I am now very wary of Taiwanese noodle makers and so should you if you ever go to Taipei. And that is one to grow on. And knowing is half the battle.

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