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Numbers in the News!

August 2, 2010

On Saturday, Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton, married Marc Mezvinsky in New York. The entire wedding, attended by 500 guests, is believed to have cost about $3 million! Here are estimates of just some of the costs: designer wedding gown, $24,900; jewelry, $250,000 mother-of-the-bride's gown, $15,000, flowers, $40,000; wedding cake, $12,000; air-conditioned tents, $600,000; security, $200,000; and place settings, $100 per guest. Based on a $3 million total, about how much money was spent on expenses we didn't list?

July 27, 2010

The popular social-networking site, Facebook, announced last week that it reached 500 million members. (The entire U.S. population is about 307 million!) Facebook was founded by a Harvard University student, Mark Zuckerberg, in 2004, and its popularity has been growing ever since. in the past 5 months, 100 million new members joined. If new members continued to join at that rate, what month and year would Facebook reach 1 billion members?

July 19, 2010

In May, we reported to you about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by an explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Last Thursday, BP installed a cap to cut off the flow of oil. It appears to be working, but the disaster is far from over. This is a temporary solution and there is still an incredible amount of oil to clean up. Scientists now estimate that 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil were spilled each day. Each barrel equals 42 gallons of oil. At the rate of 50,000 barrels of oil per day, how many gallons of oil were spilled between April 20 (when it started) and July 15?

July 12, 2010

On Sunday, in South Africa, Spain became champions of the soccer world for the next four years. They won the final game of the 2010 World Cup, beating the Netherlands, 1-0. It was the first time Spain won the World Cup in the tournament's 80-year history. To become the champions, Spain played 7 games during the month-long tournament, and won 6 of them. Soccer games are 90 minutes long. At the end of 90 minutes in the final game, the score was still tied, so they played 30 extra minutes. How many total hours of soccer did Spain play during the entire World Cup tournament?

July 6, 2010

Not all 4th of July traditions involve fireworks. Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has been held in Coney Island, New York, every year (but two) since 1916. Contestants must eat as many hot dogs as they can—including buns—in 10 minutes. (Before 2008, it was 12 minutes, but they changed it back to the original 1916 length.) On Sunday, Joey Chestnut from California won for the fourth year in a row. Takeru Kobayashi of Japan won every year from 2001 until 2006. (His first year in the competition, he doubled the previous record!) Use the following data to create a line graph of the results from the contest's past 10 years.



June 28, 2010

Wimbledon, usually considered the top tennis tournament in the world, started on June 21 this year in England and ends on July 4. Last Thursday, John Isner from the United States beat Nicolas Mahut from France in the longest professional tennis match in history. The match lasted three days! It started on Tuesday 6:13 p.m. and ended at 9:07 p.m. due to darkness. The match continued on Wednesday at 2:04 p.m. and ended at 9:10 p.m. for darkness. On Thursday, they played from 3:43 p.m. until the match finally ended at 4:48 p.m. (Why it lasted so long: To win the final set of a match at Wimbledon, you must win at least 6 games, and be leading by at least 2 games. So when the final set's score reached 6-6, they kept playing, and playing, and playing, till there was a winner. Isner finally won the set, 70-68!) How many total hours and minutes did they play?

Bonus News Item: PHONE-TASTIC!
Speaking of three days: The iPhone 4 just set an Apple sales record for its first three days. Apple reports that 1.7 million of the phones were sold over the first three days (last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). On average, how many phones is that per hour (rounded to the nearest whole number)?

JUNE 21, 2010
Attention Muggles! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new theme park in Orlando, Florida, officially opened on Friday. There were 5,000 people lined up outside at 9 a.m. to get in! At the park, visitors can ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, eat Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans at Honeydukes, buy a wand at Ollivander's, and more. The park cost $250 million dollars to build. It costs $79 for a 1-day ticket (which doesn't include food or souvenirs). Based just on that ticket price, how many people would have visit to earn back the cost of building the park?

JUNE 14, 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicked off on Friday! The tournament, held every four years, determines the world champions of soccer. The World Cup begins with 32 teams (each representing their home country), divided into 8 groups of 4 teams. (The U.S. is in Group C, with England, Slovenia, and Algeria.) In the Group Stage which is currently going on, each team plays one game against each of the other teams in its group. What is the total number of games played in the Group Stage? 

JUNE 8, 2010

Friday night, on live national TV, eighth-grader Anamika Veeramani from North Royalton, Ohio, won the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee. In the ninth round, she correctly spelled the winning word, "stromuhr" (a device that measures the amount and speed of blood flow through an artery). Anamika outlasted all the other competitors. At the beginning of the Spelling Bee, there were 1 third grader, 4 fourth graders, 19 fifth graders, 54 sixth graders, 66 seventh graders, and 129 eighth graders. What percent of the total competitors were eighth graders? Round to the nearest tenth.

JUNE 1, 2010

America has spoken! Lee DeWyze, the rocker from Illinois, was voted the ninth winner of American Idol. It is still one of the most popular shows on television, but last Wednesday's episode had the lowest ratings for an American Idol finale since the first season. Last year, 28.8 million viewers tuned in to the finale, but this year, 23.2 million people watched. What is the percent decrease from last year to this year?

MAY 24, 2010

This past Saturday, more than 500 middle-school students from all over New York City took part in the 2010 AMS Pi5NY Math Tournament. Teams of 5 students from the same school and grade had 45 minutes to solve as many problems as possible from a provided set. (Editor Jack from MATH Magazine was one of the judges.) The clock counted down as motivational music blasted from the speakers, the spectators in the stands cheered, and the giant "Pi-ñata" hung overhead. Trophies and medals were awarded to the highest-scoring teams at each grade level, but every student did a great job at the action-packed event. Try one of the 500-point questions from the tournament: Keshan received a new bike for his birthday with huge tires that have an 11-inch radius. What is the minimum number of complete revolutions each tire would need to do for Keshan to ride his bike 100 yards?

May 17, 2010

Sixteen-year-old Jessica Watson from Australia turned her dream of sailing around the world into a reality. Jessica traveled about 23,000 miles to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. She left Sydney on October 17, 2009, and returned on May 15, 2010. On average, how many miles did she travel per day? Round to the nearest mile.

May 10, 2010

A musical called The Fantasticks celebrated its 50th anniversary last week. Before its debut on May 3, 1960, the play (like most plays) needed investors: People who give money to pay for things like sets and costumes. The Fantasticks' 44 original investors put in a total of $16,500. If a show is successful and makes a profit (more money than they spent), investors earn their money back...and more! The Fantasticks has been very successful-there have been more than 11,000 productions of the show around the world. Marjorie and Malcolm Gray, two of the original investors, put $330 into the show in 1960. On average, they've earned about $1,600 a year ever since. How much in total have they earned from the show in 50 years?

May 3, 2010

On April 20, an explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused a massive oil spill. It is an environmental disaster, having major consequences on the fishing and shipping industries, tourism, habitats of birds and sea creatures, and much more. The widening oil slick will likely affect the gulf coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. While steps are being taken to control the spill, it will take a long time. Many believe this will be the largest oil spill ever in U.S. waters, surpassing the Exxon Valdez spill near Alaska in 1989. That spill was 10.8 million gallons. Right now, Deepwater Horizon is spilling the equivalent of 5,000 barrels of oil every day into the Gulf. One barrel equals 42 gallons of oil. After how many days will the Deepwater Horizon spill be larger than the Valdez spill?

April 26, 2010

What would you do if you won $15,000? Carissa Moore, a 17-year-old from Hawaii, won that amount of money at a surf festival earlier this month. Instead of keeping the money for herself, she donated it to a local surfing club. There are 180 kids in the surfing club. The money will go to the club, but if they were going to split the money evenly to buy materials for each member, about how much money would each kid get?

April 19, 2010
Friday, April 16, was the last official day to return the census form to the Census Bureau. The census is a way for the government to keep track of how many people live in each city, town, and state. The data is used for many purposes, including distributing federal funding to states. It's very important that one person in every household fills out the census form. That way, money can be given where it's needed in an area: schools, hospitals, and more! The census also determines how many representatives each state has in the House of Representatives. According to the 2000 census, Texas had a population of 20,851,820. The total U.S. population was 281,421,906. About what percent of the population lived in Texas? (Round to the nearest tenth.)

For more information on the 2010 census, see pages 10-11 of the March 29/April 12 issue of MATH.

April 12, 2010
Would you still eat junk food if it cost more money? Some states have been trying out pizza and soda tax to encourage people to eat healthier. Researchers estimate that an 18% tax on these foods could reduce calorie intake by 56 calories per person per day. This would result in weight loss of about 5 pounds per person per year. Let's say someone buys a $2 slice of pizza and $1 soda once a week. How much more would that person spend per year on just those two items after the 18% tax?

ON YOUR OWN: Now think about how much junk food you buy. If you paid 18% more for it, would you buy less? 

April 5, 2010
Jaime Escalante taught advanced math to low-income minority students at a time when nobody believed it could be done. He was such an extraordinary teacher that he inspired the hit 1988 movie Stand and Deliver (available on DVD). Escalante's death last week was a major loss for the math community, but his impact lives on.

Here is a fun trick from Escalante, just one of the ways he brought math to life. Write the numbers 1 to 10 down the side of a piece of paper. Multiply each number by 9 and write down the products so they form a column (all the ones digits and tens digits lined up). What pattern do you notice in the ones and tens digits?

March 29, 2010
They call him Fearless Felix, and the name fits. For years, Felix Baumgartner has been making spectacular sky dives (jumps with a parachute). He has jumped off the world's tallest buildings, across the English Channel, into a 600-foot cave, and more. Now, Baumgartner plans to become the first skydiver to break the speed of sound!

Sometime later this year, he will jump out of a helium balloon at least 120,000 feet above Earth. He will "free fall" for about 5 minutes, then open his parachute, then take another 10 minutes to reach the ground. What will Fearless Felix's average speed be, in miles per hour, for the entire 15-minute fall? (Round to the nearest whole number.) 

ON YOUR OWN: Baumgartner's speed will be much faster before he opens the parachute. Thirty seconds into the jump, he will break the speed of sound. Research, online or in the library, how fast the speed of sound is. 

March 22, 2010
The 2010 NCAA men's college basketball tournament began on March 18. There are 64 teams in the tournament. In the first round, 32 teams play a game against the other 32 teams. The winning teams move on the second round, and so on, until there is one remaining team: the national champion. How many total games are in the tournament?

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