Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A warm nod to arithmetic

with 19 comments

I’m sure you noticed something curious in the last post: the equivalent (rounded to the nearest whole degree) of Thursday’s warm high temperature of 82°F was 28°C, a number consisting of the same two digits but in reverse order. Some of you must have rushed to Twitter and Facebook to tell all your friends, who must have been thrilled to hear it.

Ever alert math teachers would interrupt their classes with a question now: “Students, are there any other two-digit pairs of equivalent Fahrenheit ~ Celsius temperatures with reversed digits like that one?” What do you think, readers?

A seemingly cynical answer would be “What’s the difference?”, but I know that’s just your way of leading into something related: there’s an interesting way to find the difference between the two numbers in a reversed-digit pair.

a) Find the difference between the two individual digits: in the case of 82, 8 – 2 = 6.

b) Take what you just got and multiply it by 9: in this example, 6 x 9 = 54.

c) The result is the difference between the two two-digit numbers you started with: in this case, 82 – 28 = 54.

What does all this have to do with native plant photography? About as much as the difference between a pair of reversed-digit numbers like 88 and 88, but you know the refrain by now: variety is the species of life.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 10, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with ,

19 Responses

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  1. I like this post a lot. Interesting. Should do more writing.


    February 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM

  2. I love information like this. Keep this up. I can’t wait to bring this up at the next family gathering!


    February 10, 2013 at 1:50 PM

  3. As a younger student math and I were never on friendly terms. That singular hour in the day could bring on a headache within minutes of beginning the lesson. In HS I had an algebra teacher named Mr. Hoppes that helped me to understand the basics and by the mid semester I was tutoring in that class! Later, at university I would again come to terms with my mathaphobia. Funny, that being taught how to teach the subject to my future students enabled me to overcome my own fear of the subject…

    I will never be a mathematician, nor adore the learning as you do, but I can appreciate a lesson in which the instructor has taken the time to explain what’s going on in terms that even I can understand. (I tried to do this for my little ones in 1st and 2nd, because that is where the foundations are laid are they not?) 😉
    Fun to know, and thank you, Steve.


    February 10, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    • You’re welcome, Lynda, and thanks so much for telling of your experiences as a student and as a teacher. Having a good teacher makes a huge difference for students. Even the bureaucrats who control education seem to be coming around to that realization, though how they could not have realized it for so many decades astounds me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2013 at 10:05 PM

  4. I learned as a bank teller that whenever you were out-of-balance at the end of the day by an amount than was evenly divisible by 9, you should look for a transposition of numbers, eg 82 and 28. There, a tip for balancing your cheque book.

    Joan Leacott

    February 10, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    • That’s right, and it’s related to the once-common technique of checking arithmetic by what what used to be known as casting out nines.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2013 at 10:08 PM

  5. Never in my life have I laughed out loud at something mathematical, but I just did. I laughed because the joke at the end was funny, of course, but even more, I laughed with delight because I “got it”.

    What a wonderful post!


    February 10, 2013 at 4:51 PM

  6. From this afternoon’s NWS Twitter Feed:

    NWS Fort Worth ‏@NWSFortWorth

    The 0.98 inches of rain that fell at DFW today breaks the record rainfall for February 10th of 0.89 inches which occurred in 1911. #txwx

    4:46 PM – 10 Feb 13

    It works!

    9 – 8 = 1
    1 x 9 = 9
    98 – 9 = 89



    February 10, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    • How strange that a reversed-digits example came your way so quickly! Great that you recognized it as such.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2013 at 10:17 PM

  7. Very clever post! I’m often amazed by those who laugh off their lack of even basic math skills. Ignorance is never really funny, nor very attractive.

    Alex Autin

    February 11, 2013 at 4:06 AM

    • Sometimes, that laughter is grounded in embarassment or frustration, and has little to do with amusement.


      February 11, 2013 at 6:41 AM

      • As with any ability, some people are inherently better or worse at mathematics than others. A good teacher, by which I mean a good explainer, can raise the understanding of both types (with people who naturally resonate to the subject probably profiting the most). I’m troubled that so many recent trends in education have purposely diminished the role of the teacher and amplified that of the “facilitator.”

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 11, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    • I’m glad that you found this appealing. Over the years when I taught math, little observations like this one about the difference between reversed-digit pairs sometimes led me into explorations and even discoveries that I turned into articles.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2013 at 9:16 AM

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