Thursday, February 10, 2011

Least interesting day of the century

Below is the text of the latest One Minute Podcast with the Great Lakes Geek.

A programmer in the UK fed 300 million facts into a computer program that he wrote and determined that April 11, 1954 was the least interesting day since 1900. From news and events the program determined that fewer important things happened on that day than the others in the century.

In one sense that must have been a great day. The old Chinese curse says “May you live in interesting times.” Sometimes interesting is not good. It’s nice to have boring from time to time.

But when I read about the most boring day it reminded me of an old math problem. The prof would say what is the first non-interesting integer (or real number or irrational or whatever.)

We would go through the list excluding numbers. 1 is the identity, it is of course interesting. 2 is the only even prime number. 3 is prime. 4 is a square and so on. We could find something of interest for a lot of numbers.

But eventually we got to a number that we couldn’t find anything interesting about. Let’s call it X.

So we’d tell the prof that X was the first non-interesting number.

Do you see what happens next?

By virtue of X being the first non-interesting number, it becomes interesting! And the process continues.

So there may not be a lot of major events that happened on April 11, 1954 but it just got a little more interesting in my book.

No comments: