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!

Watch Danny MacAskill’s bike magic in Epecuén, Argentina

Danny MacAskill is nothing short of a magician, and he’s back at it in Argentina. You have to see this to believe it.

For more on the crazy landscape in the video, read about Epecuén on Huffington Post.

What does the Equinox look like from space?

The Vernal Equinox. It’s not the longest day of the year. It’s not the shortest. It’s the…well…what is it?

Check out this visual representation using satellite data:

Vernal Equinox from space

Then read a further explanation from NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day Blog:
>> APOD: 2014 March 19 – Equinox on a Spinning Earth.

Happy Spring Equinox!

What is a “math person” anyway?

I’m struck by how many people will readily disavow their math skills with a single statement of “I’m not a math person.” You’ve heard it many times from friends, or perhaps from yourself. Maybe you’ve excused your way out of situations requiring calculation, geometrical thinking, or ratios. “I’m not a math person” seems like a fine excuse.

But what if in a social situation you were asked to explain yourself more clearly and you replied “oh, I’m not a verbal expression person”? Would that fly? Certainly eyebrows would raise.

What is it about math that makes so many people balk? The Atlantic presents a series of articles on the topic , starting with this: The Myth of ‘I’m Bad at Math’ – Miles Kimball & Noah Smith – The Atlantic.

Cheerleader Effect: Why People Are More Beautiful in Groups

Laws of averages play out in unsuspecting ways, including attraction.

>> Cheerleader Effect: Why People Are More Beautiful in Groups |  The Atlantic

This video of a bonobo playing the keyboard (with a bit of background music accompaniment) makes me think about just how powerful music really is. There’s something about music that resonates deep inside all of us.

Thanks to Peter Gabriel’s YouTube channel for turning me on to this.

Airplane Cockpits : Operating Rooms

What management principle do airplane cockpits and operating rooms share? When it comes to managing risk from human error, specifically fixation or lack of awareness of a problem, both environments demand the “Two Challenge Rule.”

777 Cockpit

>> Cockpit culture and using the two challenge rule in the OR | Kevin MD

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