September 19th, 2008

me with cats

OK, *now* I feel better!

Back in high school, I got invited as one of the only freshmen to a regional math meet. This was a huge honor. I did really well, but I missed winning a medal by only one question, and it was something like this:
If one and one half teenagers can eat one and one half small pizzas in one and one half hours, how many small pizzas can 9 teenagers eat in 6 hours?

We were discussing the logistics of this on the bus ride home:
"It's super easy, Gnat, it's one person to one pizza in one hour, so 54 pizzas."

"No! It's one person to one pizza in an hour and a half, because the rate doesn't reduce that way, see? So it's 36."

"Well, we all got it right and you got it wrong, just get over it!"

But I never did get over it. I fumed the whole way back. I knew the test correctors had made the same mistake, but I wasn't sure how to voice my complaint, especially after the awards ceremony had already taken place. I was ticked beyond belief... for years, really. I missed the penultimate nerditude-prize by their own mistake! GRRR!

And, just now, I got justification, when I read this section this morning from Asimov's I, Robot:
When Susan Calvin entered the fantastically guarded vault that held The Brain, one of the current shift of technicians had just asked it: "If one and a half chickens lay one and a half eggs in one and a half days, how many eggs will nine chickens lay in nine days?"
The Brain had just answered, "Fifty-four."
And the technician had just said to another, "See, you dope!"

Thank you, Asimov, you just gave me my medal.