Cheryl’s Birthday Problem and Information Filtering

I love seeing teasers about math and logic gain popular appeal! Here’s the math (specifically, logic) problem that the internet is talking about today:

Cheryl's birthday problem

You can get the full problem nicely presented on either The Guardian or The New York Times websites. A number of other sites are talking about it today, too. Just Google “Cheryl birthday problem.”

I spent some time with the problem and put together this response here. I know that various online outlets have discussed the answer as well; here are the respective solutions presented by The Guardian and The New York Times (don’t click those links until you think about the problem for yourself). But I think there’s a useful “information” framework to use in considering how to arrive at the answer. I discuss that framework at the end.

Spoiler alert — I’m going to discuss the birthday answer starting in the next paragraph.

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Hubble Space Telescope book from TASCHEN

Fall in love with a bunch of beautiful maps

Science, Technology, and Invention in 26 Typefaces

How much do you need to make in LA to afford the average apartment?

mattymcmatt / Pixabay

Answer: $33/hour, at least

And a home? According to a new report from KPCC:

The median home price in Los Angeles is $570,500, according to the real estate website,

But consider that the median income in Los Angeles is about half that: $49,497, according to census numbers from 2009-2013.

So it’s no surprise that Los Angeles has been rated as the most unaffordable city to rent in America by Harvard and UCLA.

via LA residents need to make $33 an hour to afford the average apartment | 89.3 KPCC.

Time flies, but what is it anyway?

BBCdiscoveryAs the end of 2014 approaches, so many of us wonder where the year behind went. Time, as they say, flies by.

But ever stop to wonder, “what is time?” Is it a physical dimension like distance? How is this “4th” dimension different? Why don’t the laws of physics care which direction time runs?

An episode of the very excellent BBC Discovery podcast explores many of these issues. It’s fun listening.


More/Subscribe: TIME – Podcasts – Discovery by BBC (episode 152)

Meet Zequals, a mental math tool

Can some simple rounding help us be more accurate and confident with mental math? The man behind this symbol proposes just that:


And it turns out it’s fairly accurate:

Zequals accuracy

Basically, using some simplification of numbers we can do mental multiplication more accurately (generally). Confused by the squiggles and colors? Don’t be intimidated.

Read more: Zequals: the new symbol that will make us all better at sums | Rob Eastaway | Science |

Cultural Prep: Soda Stereo & the World Cup Final

So we’re down to Argentina and Germany in this year’s World Cup final match. I’ll save the postulation about football for another time and place. This post is about one of my favorite bands, who hail from Argentina. Seems like a good opportunity to write about their music, and for you to have a listen!

Soda Stereo. Most non-Spanish speakers haven’t heard of them. Any Spanish speaker from South America, Spain, the US, or anywhere other corner of the Spanish-speaking globe undoubtedly has. They were pioneers of rock en Español, effectively setting the gold standard for Spanish language pop and rock starting back in the 80s.

Their first albums had a very 80s sound — totally reflective of the times. Even the subject of their early music reflected the obsession with popular media that made its way into English-language pop in the 80s. The U.S. had “Video Killed the Radio Star”; South America sang along to “Sobredosis de TV” (“TV Overdose”):

But the band’s sound evolved beautifully over the years. Quickly compare the previous track with the lush sound of “Un Millón de Años Luz”:

Through the 90s and 2000s Soda Stereo released some great albums, including Canción Animal, one of my personal favorites:

They also released a live album, Gira Me Verás Volver, that I recommend as the best intro to their music; it’s an amazing, energetic, and fun listen:

Gustavo Cerati


Fuerza Cerati!

The band’s lead singer, Gustavo Cerati, also went on to release some great solo albums. Then sadly, in 2010, he suffered a massive stroke while on tour. Cerati remains hospitalized, still in a coma for over 4 years and counting. He has a cult following around the world. Just Google “Cerati” to see.

Oh yeah, the World Cup

I love the World Cup on a few levels. Certainly it’s a beautiful sporting event. But it’s also a great opportunity for the global spotlight to shine on countries that don’t often take center stage. So I’m taking advantage of Argentina’s place in the World Cup Final match to share a bit of my love for music! Enjoy!

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