Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic

Rippling rhombus! There's less than a week left in my From A to Z Contest, with prizes > $100. Enter today!

Math isn't just a numbers game. Like with most everything else, letters have greedily horned in on the action. Yet they always try to pretend they're something else. Here's one possible interpretation for each, in the realm of math and science:

a acceleration (you'll go faster if you skip these snarky comments in parentheses)
b the length of the second side of a smart triangle1
c the speed of light in a vacuum2
d diameter (yours will get larger with too much π)
e Euler's number/Napier's constant (Napier took partial credit on Euler's day off)
F the Force (which, as I proved on D-Day, is hard-coded into our DNA)
g how quickly you're falling toward earth (depending on the gravity of the situation)
h height (I've always been tall for mine)
i a number for those who miss their imaginary friend
J joule (I'd have chosen Joule over Jinger and Jordyn-Grace, too)
K a base unit of temperature3
L likelihood (as in the likelihood you didn't know this)
m mass (not Churchy mass, unless you take up the whole pew)
n the size of a statistical sample (which can go to infinity, and beyond!)
o a circle, or possibly an ellipse (it really depends on which font you're using)
p momentum (move along, nothing to see here)
Q heat (and Q's vehicles always pack heat... coincidence?)
r radius (it's half of d: flip r upside down and you'll see the resemblance)
s second (not as in "I second that" or "the second one," but "in one second")
t time (it used to be on my side, but then Morris Day took it)
U union (if you don't approve of this, speak now or forever hold your peace)
v velocity (you shall know mine)4
W What's that? That's watt.
x any damn number it wants to be
y the vertical axis (where everything's on the up 'n up)
z the it's-coming-straight-for-us axis (now in 3D!)

1 I call it a smart triangle both because it's not obtuse, and because it's always right.
2 As measured by vacuuming up a firefly, followed by a miniature cop with a radar gun. Oh, and he'll need a miniature walkie-talkie, too, to radio back the findings.
3 For reference, 0 K is not OK. You've never felt such cold.
4 I reached 28mph during The Great Plummet.

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, hosted by Stephen Tremp and seven others. Go check out the other participants!


  1. I always hated imaginary numbers. I had enough trouble with the ones that actually existed.

    This post is too funny!

  2. Aren't you the clever 'R' challenger Nate. Great imagination here.


    L'Aussie Travel A-Z Challenge Posts

  3. Wow. Clever post. That must have taken much brain power.

  4. Okay, I admit it! I did skim this one--didn't even read all the way to the end because IHHHM (I HATE, HATE, HATE math!)

  5. That has to be the best R post I have read today !


  6. All numbers were imaginary to grade 3 I was imagining personalities for each number and math became story time...until algebra came along...
    I still hate 8 for how he treated 7 all those years...but 5, such a mensch...always trying to patch things up...

    yes, I still see them that way...


  7. I love math--letters do have a way of sneaking themselves into numerical calculations! And there are all the Greek letters, too . . .

  8. I feel a little light-headed after reading that. Math sometimes does that to me. :)

  9. Wow! I even recognize some of them. Maybe my degree has some use after all!!

  10. My friend, how R you?
    I'm very fast at totalling up numbers...'I hasten to add'.
    Nate, you write a very clever, 'thinking outside the blog' style. Kudos to you! :)

  11. I absolutely love this post.

    Well done.

  12. M.J.: I always preferred the rational numbers, too. And sometimes, the musical ones.

    L'Aussie: Thanks! But don't flaunt that <3 around too much, or my Denise might have some words for you.

    Mary: Interestingly enough, no. I only used 10% of my brain.

    Bridget: But math looooves you.

    RJR: Fantastic! Even if it's the only one you read today, I'm still proud. (It doesn't take much.)

    moe: That is just great stuff, I love it. Of course, 6 was a loose cannon, always trying to hit 8 with a 2x4.

    Golden: Pi can hang with the English alphabet, but as for the rest, they don't quite make the cut. They're still all just (bad pun alert) Greek to me.

    L.G.: Dizziness is a common side effect of higher math. Tilt your head and shake; you might be able to get the remainders out.

    tao: Of course your degree is of use! Maybe not in the real world, but it should help you understand some of my jokes.

    Gary: Wow, your puns rival my own. (I'm not sure if that's a compliment or an insult.) And so I think outside the blog as I write in it? Impressive. I must be some sort of cognitive contortionist.

    Liz: Lovely, thanks!

  13. Wow Nate! I like F but I am with L.G. on this...dizzy. Hey...I need someone to help me design my website for the new photography business. Do you have a website I can check out?

  14. Tracy Jo: Nice of you to consider me, but I gave up freelance design work years ago. It took too much time away from my other interests, such as writing, photography, and procrastination from writing and photography. I'd suggest either using some site that provides quality templates at reasonable prices, or find yourself a young college grad (or student) who's looking to build their portfolio/make a little extra cash.