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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Square Root Day

I am from the era when everyone studying higher mathematics owned a slide rule. The first one I owned was made of wood and it tucked away into a stiff green leather case, about a foot long.

When my daughters were young I bought an inexpensive plastic slide rule so I could teach them just what a neat gadget it was. It really had a lot of applications, even if you were using it to draft a pattern for sewing some new item of clothing.

Somehow when the calculators came along that did all those computations I never wanted to give up my slide rule. Maybe it was a trophy of some sort.

Eventually I tucked it away in a drawer. Perhaps today I'll have to take it out, if just for no more than a nostalgic drive.

March 3, 2009
Today is Square Root Day

Slide Rule Cemetary

3/3/09: Math fans to celebrate Square Root Day
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Dust off the slide rules and recharge the calculators. Square Root Day is upon us.

The math-buffs' holiday, which only occurs nine times each century, falls on Tuesday — 3/3/09 (for the mathematically challenged, three is the square root of nine).

"These days are like calendar comets, you wait and wait and wait for them, then they brighten up your day — and poof — they're gone," said Ron Gordon, a Redwood City teacher who started a contest meant to get people excited about the event.

The winner gets, of course, $339 for having the biggest Square Root Day event.

Gordon's daughter even set up a Facebook page — one of a half-dozen or so dedicated to the holiday — and hundreds of people had signed up with plans to celebrate in some way. Celebrations are as varied: Some cut root vegetables into squares, others make food in the shape of a square root symbol.

The last such day was five years ago, Feb. 2, 2004, which coincided with Groundhog Day. The next is seven years away, on April 4, 2016.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press.

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