**August, 2002**

BACK TO CONTENTSTo: All Dr. Math Doctors From: Ian Underwood Subject: Ask Dr. Math in August Hi Math Doctors, Summer is over! During the first week of September, we're already averaging more than twice as many questions per day as we received during August. During August, we received 3525 questions (117/day), of which we answered 2042 (68/day, or about 58%). About 30 math doctors contributed, including the following: 15/day | | | Peterson | | 10/day | | | Greenie | | Rick 5/day | Anthony, Jerry | Fenton, Tom | Roy | Douglas, Paul 1/day | Jaime, Jeremiah, Nitrogen, White, Wilkinson / 1/wk | Achilles, Aileen, Floor, Jaffee, Mike, Pat, Pete, Rob Rating the Ratings ------------------ Recently, a feature was added to the office to allow y'all to indicate when a particular question seems especially worth answering ('thumbs up'), or not worth wasting time on ('thumbs down'). It's too early to draw any conclusions yet, but I think it's interesting that 57 percent of the questions marked as worthwhile ended up being answered, compared to 72 percent of the questions marked as unanswerable! (Of course, 2/3 of the questions in the latter category were answered by the administrative staff, which is more or less what I expected to happen.) Anyway, if you have comments about this feature - whether you'd like to see it improved or removed - please let me know. I mentioned that the number of questions coming in has doubled since the beginning of the school year. So has the number of answers going out! It's starting to seem as though a 60% answer rate is some kind of theoretical maximum, and we'd like to understand (1) whether that's really the case, and (2) if so, why. Numberland ---------- From time to time, we get questions from students who have been instructed to do projects or papers on particular numbers, e.g., "What's special about the number 73?" Often these questions are simply ignored; occasionally they receive answers questioning the value of the assignment. But it turns out that there is a resource to which you can refer these students: Numberland! The URL is http://www.mathsyear2000.org/numberland/ The site contains entries for the numbers from 1 to 100. You don't need to copy the URL down, because I've included it in the FAQ/Link menu that appears in the scrub and operating rooms. I'll close with the following thank-you, which concluded one of the threads in post-op this month: P.S. - Thanks for giving me the formula and helping me understand the formula, but making me do the work to arrive at the answer. This is the true definition of helping people. I run into so many people who just want the answer (not to this but other things) and get mad at me because I give them the information to help them learn how to arrive at something instead of just giving them the answer. My feelings about that have always been just giving someone the answer doesn't help them but giving them the information that helps them arrive at the answer empowers them. You have truly empowered me because I not only have the answer I want for this problem but I know how to arrive at the answer if I'm ever confronted with a similar problem in the future. Thanks again. That's it for August! Go forth, be fruitful, and teach kids to multiply... Dr. Ian Attending Physician Ask Dr. Math