Pythagorean Pridefulness

I needed to purchase a small storage bin to hold my loose assortment of biking paraphernalia.  Since most of the stuff is small–patches, wrenches, portable lights, and the like–the only potentially problematic piece was my portable bike pump.  Whatever box I bought would have to be able to hold this long, thin cylinder.

I briefly considered planning ahead by taking some measurements before my trip to Target.  “It isn’t necessary,” I thought to myself.  “I’m very familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem.  I should easily be able to identify and purchase a prism whose longest diagonal more than meets my needs.”

So now I must live with a un-closeable box until I feel I have learned my lesson.

Categories: Appreciation

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York

Timon Piccini (@MrPicc112) · January 9, 2012 at 1:12 am

This would be a great 3 act problem! If you feel like taking some extra pictures (with rulers for scale, and question problems), this could be a great contextual math problem.

MrHonner · January 9, 2012 at 7:49 am

There are a lot of good problems one could write here, which I why I usually have students come up with their own.

Shecky R · November 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Sine curves you’ve got down pat, but straight lines defeat you… go figure! 😉

MrHonner · November 28, 2012 at 7:05 am

Touche, Shecky! In my defense, I’ve always felt dimensionally-challenged.

Walt · December 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

It actually looks like the length of the pump may be less than the diagonal – it is the width of the pump which keeps it from occupying the corner. So perhaps your problem is that you idealized the objects involved – a not unlikely problem for a mathematician!

I’m not picking on you – I’ve learned the same thing. It is important to remember, for instance, why a door cannot fit too tightly in its opening.

MrHonner · December 1, 2012 at 9:32 am

That is an excellent point, Walt! And incidentally, it’s related to another problem I’ve been thinking about lately. Thanks for the observation!

And don’t worry, you didn’t make me feel bad by pointing out my tendency to idealize things. I’ve been doing it my whole life. 🙂

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