Skip to main content

Chatting with Owen

When I'm on the road I like to video chat with the family. However, when Owen gets online, he really likes to do math puzzles via text. Here's a recent conversation I had with him while I was at a conference in Barcelona (rough life, huh?):

6:00 PM me (John): Suzie is 4 and a half feet tall. How many inches tall is she?
6:02 PM Erin (Owen): 56
 me: close, but incorrect
6:03 PM 
6:04 PM me: Correct!
 Erin: my turn 56-45+98
6:05 PM me: 109
6:06 PM Erin: si
6:07 PM me: Next problem: 1 = 0001
  2 = 0010
  3 = 0011
  4 = 0100
  5 = 0101
  6 = ?
6:09 PM Erin: 0110?!
6:10 PM me: YES!!!!
  7 = ?
 Erin: 0111
 me: wow
  8 = ?
6:14 PM Erin: ya there?
6:15 PM owen has an answer for you
 me: ok
  ooooh, close
  hint: there are no 2's, just 0's and 1's
6:16 PM Erin: he's thinking in the other room
next answer:
6:19 PM Erin: 1000 




mama mia said…
unbelievable ability to recognize and extend pattern! I know I am biased as nonna, but wow indeed!

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…