Tag Archive: time

How Geeks Have Fun

(Submitted by friend of the blog, Ross Blocher from Oh No, Ross and Carrie!)

Recently I was teaching myself how to solve square roots by hand. As a practice number I randomly chose 532 and worked for a while to get the value out to the trillionth place… 23.065125189341. I realized it was getting pretty late in the day, and wondered if it was time to go home yet, and I looked up at the clock on my computer to find it was exactly 5:32. I did a double-take and looked back at the piece of paper… sure enough, the same number I’d just solved.

Oh, and this is weird. I’m finishing this email, and my clock says it’s 5:31. Spooky… :0)

It takes a licking…

(Submitted by reader Donald Chesebro)

Last Monday was my first day of work at a new job.  I decided to wear an old Timex analog watch that I’ve had since high school, but which I haven’t worn in years (although, like the ads, it indeed keeps on ticking).  When I put it on, I pulled the pin to set the time, but when I looked at the watch face, the time on the watch was 8:11 a.m.  The presumably correct time on my cell phone was 8:11 a.m.  (The day and date did need to be changed, though.)

EDITED 6/25/2012

[EDITOR: An especially simple story, but funny nonetheless. But what are the odds? There are a few factors to account for. Obviously one could argue the watch kept exceptionally good time, but as the date needed to be changed, we can assume it was, indeed, running fast or slow during the years it wasn’t in use. While a typical quartz watch IS capable of being accurate enough to lose/gain only 5-25 seconds per YEAR, it’s quite reasonable for them to be quite a bit further off than that due to a variety of issues. So assuming we have no way to directly predict the exact accuracy, or lack thereof, of this watch’s crystal, we’re left to assume this element’s unpredictable.

So that leaves us with the mere chance of its seemingly-random time lining up perfectly, on the day Donald decided to use the watch, with the actual time. Since there are 1440 minutes in a day, and as analog watches ignore AM/PM cycles, it appears that we’re left with as low as a 1-in-720 chance that the minutes would line up.

Although what’s not accounted for is that the watch may still have been many seconds slow or fast, leaving him to catch the time at the exact right moment, only for them to become out of sync within seconds. So a worst-case scenario, with the watch fast or slow by a full 59 seconds, leaves us with 2 seconds out of 86,400 in a day to line up, or a 1-in-43,200 chance.Still, he’d be unlikely to note the time as 8:11 at a glance if the margin was that tight, so we’re probably at a worst-case window of maybe 15 seconds, or a 1-in-5760 chance of this occurring.

So our end result here is certainly well within reasonable enough odds when you consider the huge number of people who must reset various old watches every day, but still a welcome surprise to Donald when he likely could use the spare moments while prepping for his new job. – Jarrett “Please Correct My Math” Kaufman]