Wednesday, October 31, 2012


There are several theories as to why the number 13 is considered unlucky:

13 turns make a traditional hangman's noose. Anything less would not snap a neck.  (I don't know if that is true or not.  I have not tried it.)

At Jesus's last supper, there were thirteen people around the table, counting Jesus and the twelve apostles.

On Friday 13 October 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar.

A year which contained 13 full moons instead of 12 posed problems for the monks who were in charge of the calendars. This upset the regular arrangement of church festivals.

In ancient cultures, the number 13 represented femininity, because it corresponded to the number of menstrual cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The theory is that, as the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar, the number thirteen became anathema.

Ancient Persians believed the twelve constellations in the Zodiac controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for a thousand years at the end of which the sky and earth collapsed in chaos. Therefore, the number is identified with chaos and the reason Persians leave their houses to avoid bad luck on the thirteenth day of the Persian Calendar, a tradition called Sizdah Bedar.

In the Viking tradition, it is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th god—more specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Balder, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


A charter flight carrying approximately 240 new immigrants from Ethiopia arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport yesterday.

The flight is the first of a series of monthly flights planned as part of Operation Dove’s Wings, a government initiative to speed up the place of aliyah and bring the remainder of the Falash Mura, members of the Ethiopian Jewish community who were forcibly converted to Christianity during the 19th and 20th centuries, to Israel.

The community is more commonly called Falasha, but prefer the term is Beta-Yisrael.

The Jewish Agency’s Ibim Absorption Center in the Negev is set to reopen in order to accommodate a number of the new immigrants. The rest will be spread among an additional 16 absorption centers throughout Israel operated by the Jewish Agency and the Absorption Ministry.

The 17.5-million-shekel operation is scheduled to be completed by October 2013.

The flight will be welcomed by a host of dignitaries, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky, Minister of Immigrant Absorption MK Sofa Landver and Jewish Agency Board of Directors chairman James S. Tisch.
The ceremony, which will take place in Tel Aviv, will include participation of Jewish leaders and philanthropists from Israel and around the world.

for more information on the Falasha community:  Beta_Yisrael

Monday, October 29, 2012


I thought I liked driving fast but a speed limit set at 85mph? What are you crazy? This new toll road in Texas links Austin to San Antonio. A private company has shelled out the cash personally for the road, they get to maintain and operate the road for the next 50 years and in return they keep most of the money from the toll. 

Here is the catch, they are charging $6.17 to use the road.

The video does some interesting number crunching and it turns out, at 41 miles, that $6.17 compares pretty favorably to other toll roads across the country if you go by the dollar per mile. Sounds great but I think you have to remember that the rate only holds its value if you are using the whole 41 miles.

Either way wherever you are going on the toll, you will be going their fast.

(copied from Neatorama)

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Sometimes it is useful to know how large your Zero is.
---Unknown author

Saturday, October 27, 2012

80 decillion

Astronomers have discovered a new planet, named "55 Cancri e" in the constellation of Cancer.

It's radius is twice that of the Earth (which makes it 8 times the size of earth), and it has the same density as Earth.

Astronomers figure that at least a third of the planet is made of diamond!

By my calculation, that makes  8x10^34  or 80 decillion carats!

Before you get out your diamond pick, the planet is approximately 230 trillion miles away, and over 9000 degrees Fahrenheit.  .

To read more, here is a link:    wikipedia - 55_Cancri_e


Friday, October 26, 2012

100,000,000,000,000 (One hundred trillion)

The largest bill denomination bill is Zimbabwe's $100,000,000,000,000  (One hundred trillion) bill.  It is worth about US$5.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

5 million

Donald Trump has promised to donate $5,000,000 to a charity of Obama;s choice if Obama will release his college and passport records.  This offer is good through October 31.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


2/3 rds of American workers surveyed said they would rather get a new get a new boss than a raise.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

6.02 x 10^23 (approximately 6 hundred two septillion)

For a given molecule, one mole is a mass (in grams) whose number is equal to the atomic mass of the molecule. For example, the water molecule has an atomic mass of 18, therefore one mole of water weighs 18 grams. An atom of neon has an atomic mass of 20, therefore one mole of neon weighs 20 grams. In general, one mole of any substance contains Avogadro's Number

(6.02 x 10^23)

of molecules or atoms of that substance. This relationship was first discovered by Amadeo Avogadro (1776-1858) and he received credit for this after his death.

I posted this today for Mole Day.  Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number.   Mole Day was created as a way to foster interest in chemistry. Schools throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Mole Day with various activities related to chemistry and/or moles.

For information on moles:  mole info

For information on Mole Day:  mole day

For information on the other type of mole:  the other mole

Monday, October 22, 2012


This exhibit at the Belgium Light Festival, an 84 foot high Cathedral of Lights, had 55,000 light bulbs.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


After cutting down some trees on his property to avoid them spilling onto his neighbor's lot, Jay Sperry received a $310.50 bill from the city. The bill was for sending city workers to mow the grass around his property's perimeter since Sperry had failed to do so himself after removing the trees, because somehow that equals hundreds of dollars (presumably the mower blades were etched from diamond and attached to a lawn tractor driven by the Last Son of Krypton).

The city refused to budge on the bill, so Sperry paid it -- in pennies. He loaded 31,050 pennies (that's 170 pounds of currency) into buckets and dropped them on a desk at City Hall. We assume the total number of coins could be substituted on a 1-for-1 basis for the amount of dicks Sperry respectfully instructed city officials to eat.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


The fastest known moon in our solar system, Metis, travels at 70400 mph, circling Jupiter every 7 hours, 4 minutes, and 29 seconds. 

for more info:  Metis on Wikipedia

Friday, October 19, 2012

11,721,000,000,000,000 (eleven quadrillion, seven hundred twenty one thousand)

A woman in France opened her telephone bill - It was 11,721,000,000,000,000 euros, equal to about 15 quadrillion US dollars.  When she called the telephone company, they said that there was nothing they could do about it, if she did not pay it they would take the money from her bank account, and they offered to set up a payment plan.  Finally, someone was able to adjust the bill to the 117.21 euros she actually owed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


A year ago today, Israel agreed to release 1027 prisoners, in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, who had been held prisoner by Hamas.  for 5 + 1/3 years.  He had been captured as he was patrolling the southern border of Israel.  The 1027 prisoners were responsible for the murders of 569 Israeli civilians.  79% of Israelis approved of the deal, with 14% opposed.

For more information on the deal:  Shalit_deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming IDF soldier Gilad Shalit at Tel Nof after his release from Hamas captivity.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Felix Baumgartner set a record by skydiving 128097 feet, which is 24.26 miles.

BTW, any jumps from higher from 63,000 feet require a pressurized suit.

The entire fall took 9 minutes and 3 seconds.  He had a perfect landing.

His highest speed was 834 miles per hour, Mach 1.24.  (Sound travels approximately 761 mph.)

for more information:  felix-baumgartner-jump

Monday, October 15, 2012


Just because an element doesn't exist, doesn't mean it can't be synthetically made in a lab.  Scientists in Japan think they have finally synthesized element 113, named Ununtrium.  It has an atomic weight of 287 (so it has 113 protons, 174 neutrons, and 113 electrons) and decays extremely quickly.

for more information:  elusive-element-113-finally-created-researchers-say

Sunday, October 14, 2012


An Israeli health and beauty spa is offering a creepy new service for its customers - Snake Massage. For just $80 you can have large slithering reptiles such as California and Florida king snakes, corn snakes and milk snakes, wriggle down your back and up your spine and across your face. If you don’t freak out, it can be soothing experience, as the spa owner Ada Barak will tell you.

Barak figured out several years ago that heavy king and corn snakes produce a relaxing kneading sensation. She says that once people get over any initial misgivings, they find physical contact with the snakes to be stress relieving.

"Some people said that holding the snakes made them feel better, relaxed," she said "One old lady said it was soothing, like a cold compress."

The size of the snakes depends on the type of massage - the larger ones are said to alleviate deeper muscle tensions and the smaller ones create a 'fluttering' effect. All are the snakes used are non-venomous.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


My friend Jonathan thought his car had died, but it is working now.

Jonathan:  It's reached the distance from the earth at which the moon's gravity is stronger than the earth's gravity.

Friday, October 12, 2012

101112131415 (a continuation of yesterday's post of 070809101112)

I pointed out yesterday that the day included

07:08:09 10/11/12 . 

Well the day also included

10/11/12 13:14:15

And I have a friend who has a friend who actually bothered to maker sure he was in a particular lobby at the right time to take this picture.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

070809101112 (I guess, I'm not really sure what number to use)

Today (October 11, 2012) will have 07:08:09  10/11/12  .  (At least here in the US where we write the date as mmddyy, even though ddmmyy makes more sense.)  Actually, I guess we have 2.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


My friend Eliza commented on her new car:


In the 2 months I have owned my car I have driven 2767 miles and averaged 38.6 mpg. That's 71.68 gallons of gas used. My previous car averaged about 22 mpg which would have been 125.77 gallons used. So I have 54 a gallon savings x $4/gallon (which is what I paid today) $216 savings in 2 months 325 gallons/year or $1,300 in annual savings.

And I am enjoying my Fiat 500 convertible. It is great for me or me and a passenger. We do use our larger family car for times when that is needed...but most of the time it is me or me +1, and this little car is working out just fine.

I find that it is quieter than was my Saab 9'3 convertible. Also, I have mostly had the top down, which of course is louder than closed.

As for mileage, it gets much better on the highway....very high 40's and sometimes even low 50's...but it is way worse in the city or stop and go or up hill....hence the 38.6 mpg average.


Her numbers:






















Monday, October 8, 2012


The population of Monowi, Nebraska is 1.

Monowi's peak years were in the 1930s, when it had a population of 150.  Like many other small communities in the Great Plains, it lost its younger residents to cities that were experiencing growth and offering better jobs. During the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 2; only one married couple, Rudy and Elsie Eiler, lived there. Mr. Eiler died in 2004, leaving his wife as the only remaining resident. In this capacity, she acts as mayor, granting herself a liquor license and paying taxes to herself. She is required to produce a municipal road plan every year in order to secure state funding for the village's four street lights.

Although the village is nearly abandoned, it does have the 5,000-volume Rudy's Library, founded in memory of Mr. Eiler and maintained by Mrs. Eiler. In addition, Mrs. Eiler runs a tavern in Monowi and draws regular customers from as far as 80 miles away.

The village has a total area of 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2), all land.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Manhattan was bought from the Natives for 60 guilders worth of supplies.  Changed into today's dollars, that would be $951.08.

For more information of the sale see  Mental Floss - sale of Manhattan

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Do you have $1000 to spend on breakfast?  Want this frittata?

With a four-figure price tag, this is (most likely) the world’s most-expensive omelet. But read the ingredients before you get all judgmental: six eggs, several lobster claws and 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar. 

Available at the Le Parker Meridien hotel, in midtown Manhattan.

Friday, October 5, 2012


The largest succah in the world, in Jerusalem is 500 square meters, or 0.123553 acres.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


We have 33 dog leashes hanging on the coat hooks by our front door.  4 retractable and 29 non-retractable.

This does not count the leashes hanging around the house and in our cars.

We also have 2 splitters, 3 harnesses, and 1 collar.

And a bag holding 2 tennis balls and a lot of poop bags.

The most dogs we have had at a time is 5.

There is also a jacket and a mirror on the hooks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Pomegranates are a popular fruit in Jewish tradition.  The main reason (besides the fact that they are delicious!) is that they have a lot of seeds, and the story was that a pomegranate has 613 seeds just like there are 613 mitzvot in the Torah.

Some researchers that clearly did not have anything more interesting to do (and who are not affiliated with anything Jewish as far as I know) counted the seeds in 206 pomegranates, from US, Singapore, Iran, Spain, Turkey, and Brazil.  The average number of seeds was (drumroll please!) ...

613  !!!
for more information, see the article:  pomegranate article

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


In an ad for Powell's books:

19 is the atomic number of potassium.  The Backstreet Boys are 19 years old.  19 is the eighth smallest prime number.  In binary, the number 19 loos like 10112.  In miniature golf, the golfer wins an instant prize on the 19th hole.  According to certain religious texts, there are 19 angels guarding hell.  You could win 19 free signed books from Powell' if you enter our Signed Editions contest.

To enter the contest:  powell's 19 books sweepstakes

Monday, October 1, 2012


Cartoon character Bugs Bunny once correctly calculated 1297 times 142 in his head and said, "If there's one thing we wabbits can do, it's multiply."