University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Godfrey, Kneeland, Jr. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 59, Number 4 (January 1955)

So you think you're smart!,   pp. 50-53

Page 50

_~        I&"           ~         E a                - *u   *
no You ThinK Youwl
                      SMAR                              ! *
                                by Sneedly, bs'59
  Nowe that the sttident directories are out, people
lhave becn calling me at every conceivable hour of the
(liv Or night to find out whether or not they have the
right answer to sucih and such a problem. Unfortu-
natcv, I (am too lazv to sit down and dash off the solu-
tions until an houir or two before the page proofs go to
the l)rinter; as a result, I usually don't know anything
albout \\ hether or not such and such a soldier C took
-47:3.5 hours to Wvalk a certain distance. If you readers
would realize this and have patience enough to wait a
few issues, votu vould probably get the right answers
Sooner or later. As it is, when people call me these
(lays, I try to discourage them by quoting a few sen-
teuces in the language of Goospiere-that is an Indo-
n esian N/Ion goose writer comparable to Mickey Spil-
lanm. (Since lo( engineers ever get to the top of the
Hill, thev hiaven't learned the language yet.) This
method wvorks very effectively.
  On one of my infrequent trips to the engineering
caimpus, I discovered that a few  engineers actually
solved the comimuter problem of last month without
uising a sliderule and a set of simultaneous equations-
they deserve a tip of the hat (or something) for that
feat. In a mainer befitting the best researchers, they
investigated the literature until they found the maga-
zine from wvhich I had pilfered the problem. This pro-
cediire is in keeping with the letter of the law, but
hardly with the spirit of it, fellas. The answer, inci-
dently, is 2.7:3 MPH, or in a more familiar form, 30/11
  As you nav have realized, I am departing from stand-
ar(d procedure by giving last month's answers at the
beginning of the column-that is so that you will be
Cable to put your mind to the prol)lems that follow with-
out thinking about last month's answers. To continue,
now, that abortive attempt at a trick problem involv-
ing motel anid guests was not a problem at all; if you
readl closely you'll find that there were only seven men,
and every enginer' knows that it is no problem to give
seven men each a single room if there are seven rooms
  Despite typographical errors and such, some people
were able to solve that arithmetic problem. Thanks to
F.C.M. I am able to give
solutions to it.
you one of the two possible
  Unfortunately, no one has yet sent in the other solu-
tion.... I lost the one that I worked out.
  Despite my efforts to track down the German field
lieutenant through the U. S. Army of Occupation, I
could not reach him in time to find out how in the world
he made it across that desert by using less than 1600
gallons of gasoline. Perhaps when he gets out of prison
in 1986, we'll be able to publish the correct answer.
                       * * *
  During Christmas vacation I read a novel for my
archeology course and discovered this interesting prob-
lem. Recently (about 1909) explorers uncovered records
of Babylonian mathematics. After much study they
were forced to take the system to some outstanding
engineers to translate the Babylonian algebra. One of
their literal translations follows:
                36 X2 -16x - 224 = 0
for which the roots were x = 45/17 and x =-2. De-
spite the fact that algebra wasn't invented until the
University instituted Math 50, what is the difference
between the ancient and modern systems of mathe-
matics? You can assume (correctly too) that the Baby-
lonian mathematical development was much like the
modern counterpart.                             END

Go up to Top of Page