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Volume 6, Issue 3 February, 2005

Funny Furniture

Our chair [get it?], Dr. Kenoyer, has forwarded some math definitions he first told at Prof. Hofer's retirement. He warns: "Do not try these at home, these jokes were told by the father of a teenager in a closed room; possible side effects include loss of appetite, ability to reason, ...".

  • Two Argentinean weapons made of balls and ropes: Parabolas (Pair o' bolas)
  • What a mermaid wears under her blouse: Algebra (Algae Bra)
  • When two people together make good use of their time: Coefficient
  • Person from Chicago who suggests another for office: Denominator (Da Nominator)
  • Smallest of a litter of four puppies: Quadrant (Quad Runt)
  • A parrot on a diet: Polynomial (Polly No Meal)
  • A man just back from a tropical vacation: Tangent (Tan Gent)
  • His wife: Cotangent
  • An insect who is ill: Secant (Sick Ant)
  • His wife: Cosecant
  • Songs played on a wooden xylophone: Logarithms (Log Rhythms)
  • Why eels can kiss: Ellipse (Eel Lips)
  • In Chicago, how one protects da eyes from da sun: Divisor (Da Visor)
  • What a magician does after April 30: Matrix (May Tricks)
  • When mountain climbers have children: Scalar Multiplication
  • What the acorn said when it grew up: Geometry (Gee, I'm a tree!)
  • What the pirate said when his parrot died: Polygon (Polly Gone)
  • Good advice if you have trouble drawing circles: Triangles (Try Angles
  • What you call an occupied toilet on a flying airplane: Hypoteneuse (High Pot In Use)
  • Poetry in a hotel: Inverse (Inn Verse)
  • Poetry in prison: Converse
  • The study of spinning toys: Topology
  • A band featuring a former Vice President: Algorithms

Math club news

This semester, Zoe Charles and Marvelle Roberts are co-presidents of the math club.

On Wednesday, March 9, the math club will host a panel discussion where international students will talk about math education in their home countries.

Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference

The twelfth annual HRUMC will be held on Saturday, April 30, 2005 at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. For the past few years, students and faculty have traveled to these conferences and have given talks. It is primarily a chance to hear what other students are up to (you get a veritable smorgasbord of several hundred talks that you can choose from as well as a free lunch) and to speak yourself.

Also, there is a major talk; this year, Ken Ribet will speak on the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem (he was a main 'player' in the proof of that theorem). Some talks that Plattsburgers have given in the past are: 'Stars and Stripes', 'Applications via Video', 'How to Draw a Circle Packing', 'A Neat Proof of the Schroeder-Bernstein Theorem', 'Curvature of Polyhedra', 'Markov Chains and Model Trains', and "The 2,3,and Maybe 4 Color Theorems', 'On Square Roots of Matrices', 'Fixed Points', 'Mathematical JEOPARDY' (two different times), and 'Farey Sequences'.

This time, Zoe Charles, Marvelle Roberts, and Muzleena Muzamil will present a new version of Mathematical JEOPARDY.

If you would like to present a talk or to just attend, please see Professors Bodenrader or Northshield. The deadline for submitting an abstract for a talk is Friday, March 4.

Upcoming VIDEO

Keep an eye out for a video presentation of "The Proof", a Nova special on the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. It will either be presented by the Math Club or in Prof. Bodenrader's Core class (and will be open to all). It will be shown sometime in April before the HRUMC.

Alumni News

Jeff Mortelette writes "My fiancee and I just returned from the international schools job fair in Boston. It was a hectic time, with many interviews and quick decisions. We decided to head to Bamako, Mali. I'll be teaching upper level math and my fiancee will be teaching science."

Don Kaupelis writes "I have been placed with Tammy Wager [herself a Platsburgh State alum] in Lake Placid High School for the third quarter of my student teaching."

Chris Pavone writes "I advanced to candidacy [in the Ph.D. program at UC Santa Barbara] a couple weeks ago so I should be done here in 1.5 years. My research is on 'The Spectral Scale' developed by my advisor Chuck Akemann. Believe it or not, I have also started work on a Masters in education and I should be able to finish that up at the same time. My thesis project in education will be on reflection on equity in mathematics pre-service teacher education programs. The surf is really good right now (as always in winter) and it's nice to take a little break."

Tim Kermani writes "I'm writing to you from the lower east side where I am doing my student teaching. I am presently in the second week of my student teaching down here and I am loving it. I am in a middle school in a very diverse area. I am already teaching a bunch of the classes and am enjoying myself immensely. I am commuting in so it is a 5am to 5pm day every day. It's not bad though since I can do my work on the train. For all of you in math ed, stick with it. I guarantee it's the best thing you will do."

Jeremy Hoy writes "I have completed my student teaching and my master's program. I was with Leigh Bishop in Peru (doing precalc, calc, and course 3) and was with Art Menard in Champlain (for 7th grade math). In December I got my MST in math 7-12. I have applied for my initial teaching certification and am currently awaiting a decision from the state."

The Texas Method

A mathematician, native Texan, once was asked in his class: "What is mathematics good for?" He replied: "This question makes me sick. Like when you show somebody the Grand Canyon for the first time, and he asks you `What's is good for?' What would you do? Why, you would kick the guy off the cliff". 

Interesting Theorem: All positive integers are interesting.
Proof: Assume the contrary. Then there is a lowest non-interesting positive integer. But, hey, that's pretty interesting! A contradiction. 

Are you aware?

Math Awareness month (formerly math awareness week) has been around since 1986; the first one was proclaimed by President Reagan.

Math Awareness Month, April 2005, has as its theme: Mathematics and the Cosmos.

What geometry is the "right" geometry for the Universe - Euclidean, or hyperbolic?

To find out about recent experiments by astronomers to try to settle this question, look at .

To find out about how topology allows us to imagine a finite universe, look at

To learn about hyperbolic geometry, take MAT 353.

To have a good read, check out "The Shape of Space" by Jeff Weeks, available in our library.

For essays that talk about the role of math in exploring the cosmos, check the web site .


Mike Curry solved problem 1 from the last issue. He's entitled to his choice of a wonderful prize from the big box of prizes in Prof. Northshield's office.

This time, we have two problems, one from calculus, the other from linear algebra. The first and/or best solution of each will get a great prize from whatever Mike leaves behind in the big box of prizes.

  1. 'Integration by parts' allows the following calculation:

     integralx-1 dx=integralx-1 1dx=x-1 x-integral(-x-2)xdx=1+integralx-1dx.

     Subtracting integralx-1dx from left and right sides yields 0=1. What went wrong?

  2. Let A be an n by n matrix. Show that if every row of A adds up to 0 then the determinant of A is 0.

Please submit your solutions to Prof. Northshield in Hawkins 245c.

Closing Credits

Editor: Sam Northshield
Assistant Editor: Margaret Morrow

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about the Mathematics program at Plattsburgh State, please contact

David Kenoyer, Chairperson
Mathematics Department
Phone: (518) 564-4137
Fax: (518) 564-4124

SUNY Plattsburgh
Mathematics Department
Hawkins 244
Plattsburgh, NY 12901