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Between Series, an Actress Became a Superstar (in Math)
The New York Times (via National Review's The Corner) ^ | 07/19/2005 | Kenneth Chang

Posted on 07/22/2005 12:02:04 PM PDT by GreenLanternCorps

On her Web site, Danica McKellar, the actress best known as Winnie Cooper on the television series "The Wonder Years," takes on questions that require more than a moment's thought to answer.

"If it takes Sam six minutes to wash a car by himself," one fan asked recently, "and it takes Brian eight minutes to wash a car by himself, how long will it take them to wash a car together?"

"This is a 'rates' problem," Ms. McKellar wrote in reply. "The key is to think about each of their 'car washing rates' and not the 'time' it takes them."

Ms. McKellar, now a semiregular on "The West Wing" playing a White House speechwriter, Elsie Snuffin, is probably the only person on prime-time television who moonlights as a cyberspace math tutor.

Her mathematics knowledge extends well beyond calculus. As a math major at the University of California, Los Angeles, she also took more esoteric classes, the ones with names like "complex analysis" and "real analysis," and she pondered making a career move to professional mathematician.

"I love that stuff," Ms. McKellar said last month during a visit to Manhattan after a play-reading in the Hamptons. Her conversation was peppered with terminology like "epsilons" and "limsups" (pronounced "lim soups").

"I love continuous functions and proving if functions are continuous or not," she said.

She may also be the only actress, now or ever, to prove a new mathematical theorem, one that bears her name. Certainly, she is the only theorem prover who appears wearing black lingerie in the July issue of Stuff magazine. Even in that interview, she mentioned math.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: danica; math; mckellar; wonderyears
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I do not know her politics, but this actress has substance...


1 posted on 07/22/2005 12:02:05 PM PDT by GreenLanternCorps
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To: GreenLanternCorps
Didn't Punky Brewster (sp?) do something similar?
2 posted on 07/22/2005 12:05:09 PM PDT by tfecw (Vote Democrat, It's easier than working)
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To: GreenLanternCorps

She has an Master's Degree in Mathemathtics I believe.


3 posted on 07/22/2005 12:05:20 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Skywalk

Thought you'd be interested.


4 posted on 07/22/2005 12:06:49 PM PDT by radiohead (Proud member of the 'arrogant supermagt')
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To: GreenLanternCorps

I feel the stange need to bookmark this thread for no apparent reason...


5 posted on 07/22/2005 12:06:55 PM PDT by shadowman99
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To: tfecw

You're probably thinking of Mayim Bialik (AKA "Blossom", form the series of the same name) Pursued a Ph.D. in neuroscience at UCLA.


6 posted on 07/22/2005 12:07:14 PM PDT by TheBigB (How in the blue hell did Kelly Leak bat three times in the Astrodome?)
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To: GreenLanternCorps
"If it takes Sam six minutes to wash a car by himself," one fan asked recently, "and it takes Brian eight minutes to wash a car by himself, how long will it take them to wash a car together?"

1/6 + 1/8 = 14/48 = 7/24 of a carwash-per-minute. So it takes 24/7 = 3 + 3/7 minutes. Doesn't take a math major to do that in your head.
7 posted on 07/22/2005 12:07:20 PM PDT by Moral Hazard ("I believe the children are the future" - Whitney Houston; "Fight the future" - X-files)
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To: GreenLanternCorps
"If it takes Sam six minutes to wash a car by himself," one fan asked recently, "and it takes Brian eight minutes to wash a car by himself, how long will it take them to wash a car together?"

"This is a 'rates' problem," Ms. McKellar wrote in reply. "The key is to think about each of their 'car washing rates' and not the 'time' it takes them."

Headline: Actress can do high-school math.

8 posted on 07/22/2005 12:07:22 PM PDT by bummerdude (Boycott Chevron-Texaco, buy Exxon-Mobil !)
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To: GreenLanternCorps

Golly, if only my math teachers looked like that when I was in high school!


9 posted on 07/22/2005 12:07:36 PM PDT by Lunkhead_01
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To: GreenLanternCorps

10 posted on 07/22/2005 12:07:38 PM PDT by So Cal Rocket (Proud Member: Internet Pajama Wearers for Truth)
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To: Borges

I think it is just a Batchelor's but the theorem was graduate level work.


11 posted on 07/22/2005 12:07:40 PM PDT by GreenLanternCorps ("Dude, you've got some... Arzt on you..." - Hugo "Hurley" Reyes)
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To: tfecw; pissant; Fierce Allegiance; TheBigB; martin_fierro; Constitution Day; Sam's Army; ...
Yum!  She was quite a dish when she was 12, but now... uh... forget I said that...
Owl_Eagle

(If what I just wrote makes you sad or angry,

 it was probably sarcasm)

12 posted on 07/22/2005 12:07:58 PM PDT by South Hawthorne (In Memory of my Dear Friend Henry Lee II)
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To: GreenLanternCorps

she looks hot and Fred Savage looks weird now......


13 posted on 07/22/2005 12:08:04 PM PDT by Mikey_1962
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To: bummerdude
Headline: Actress can do high-school math.

Don't be too quick to scoff -- a *lot* of high-schoolers (probably a large majority) couldn't solve that problem.

14 posted on 07/22/2005 12:08:49 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: So Cal Rocket

Why did parents find it necessary to inflict those horrible glasses on their offspring? Even with the glasses she's cute.


15 posted on 07/22/2005 12:09:33 PM PDT by madison10
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To: Owl_Eagle
 

Owl_Eagle

(If what I just wrote makes you sad or angry,

 it was probably sarcasm)

16 posted on 07/22/2005 12:10:26 PM PDT by South Hawthorne (In Memory of my Dear Friend Henry Lee II)
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To: Lunkhead_01
Golly, if only my math teachers looked like that when I was in high school!

Our high school librarian looked like that (albeit blonde). Luckily I was a nerd anyway and didn't mind spending a lot of time in the library.

17 posted on 07/22/2005 12:10:31 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon

Solving the equations is the easy part, it's figuring out which equations to use to solve a problem that is the trick.


18 posted on 07/22/2005 12:10:39 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: GreenLanternCorps
"I love continuous functions and proving if functions are continuous or not," she said.

*swoon*

The fact that she's also a major babe is just icing on the cake.

19 posted on 07/22/2005 12:11:27 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Owl_Eagle
There's the perv we all know and love. I have warned you about that. JAIL remember?
20 posted on 07/22/2005 12:11:29 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: TheBigB
Could have been :)

For some reason I remember hearing about Soleil Moon Frye (Punky) recently. It could be because she's hot now, but I dunno. A quick google search didn't turn up anything other than she's married and expecting.
21 posted on 07/22/2005 12:11:31 PM PDT by tfecw (Vote Democrat, It's easier than working)
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To: Ichneumon
Don't be too quick to scoff -- a *lot* of high-schoolers (probably a large majority) couldn't solve that problem.

And those that can don't get an article in the NY Times about their genius !

22 posted on 07/22/2005 12:12:04 PM PDT by bummerdude (Boycott Chevron-Texaco, buy Exxon-Mobil !)
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To: bummerdude

"Headline: Actress can do high-school math."


This is High School math?

http://danicamckellar.com/math/percolation.pdf


23 posted on 07/22/2005 12:12:13 PM PDT by GreenLanternCorps ("Dude, you've got some... Arzt on you..." - Hugo "Hurley" Reyes)
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To: Owl_Eagle
Damn. I can't make heads or tails of it. She's waaaay above my head in math, that's for sure:

Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin–Teller models on Z2: http://www.danicamckellar.com/math/percolation.pdf

24 posted on 07/22/2005 12:12:25 PM PDT by TheBigB (How in the blue hell did Kelly Leak bat three times in the Astrodome?)
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To: GreenLanternCorps

I think Danica was my first real TV crush. I loved the Wonder Years, and I loved Winnie.


25 posted on 07/22/2005 12:12:32 PM PDT by BaBaStooey (Ethiopia: The New Happiest Place on Earth.)
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To: Ichneumon
An engineer will answer that question in two seconds with "3 and a half minutes". And that is the right answer, because it is delivered in two seconds, and it is pretty darn close.
26 posted on 07/22/2005 12:12:34 PM PDT by gridlock (ELIMINATE PERVERSE INCENTIVES)
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To: dfwgator
Solving the equations is the easy part, it's figuring out which equations to use to solve a problem that is the trick

No, the real hard part is paying attention to the math question instead of the teacher.
27 posted on 07/22/2005 12:13:58 PM PDT by mnehring (Fourth Estate, Fifth Column Dis-Infomers)
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To: Owl_Eagle
Perv! :P

She's pretty cute now, though.
I did enjoy Wonder Years back in the day.

I had no idea she was such a math genius!

28 posted on 07/22/2005 12:14:12 PM PDT by Constitution Day (I am the Sultan of Oom-Papa-Mow-Mow.)
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To: Moral Hazard
"If it takes Sam six minutes to wash a car by himself," one fan asked recently, "and it takes Brian eight minutes to wash a car by himself, how long will it take them to wash a car together?"

"1/6 + 1/8 = 14/48 = 7/24 of a carwash-per-minute. So it takes 24/7 = 3 + 3/7 minutes. Doesn't take a math major to do that in your head."

Plus 2 minutes to argue about the right soap, technique, etc.; 1 minute for a water fight after Sam "accidentally" sprays Brian; 1 minute waiting for turns with the hose; and, 4 minutes pointing out spots each other missed.

Substitute Paris Hilton for either Sam or Brian, and all times are quadrupled.
29 posted on 07/22/2005 12:14:16 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: bummerdude

More like grade school math.


30 posted on 07/22/2005 12:15:34 PM PDT by fire and forget
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick
I have warned you about that. JAIL remember?
 
You said there were a lot of attractive girls there, right?  Have to admit my mind was on Michelle Wei.

Owl_Eagle

(If what I just wrote makes you sad or angry,

 it was probably sarcasm)

31 posted on 07/22/2005 12:15:40 PM PDT by South Hawthorne (In Memory of my Dear Friend Henry Lee II)
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To: Ichneumon
Don't be too quick to scoff -- a *lot* of high-schoolers (probably a large majority) couldn't solve that problem.

Yep.

And recall that recently an Asian manufacturer chose Canada for a factory rather than the US.

Why?

Because American workers couldn't handle the machine even when given pictures on how to operate them.

32 posted on 07/22/2005 12:16:02 PM PDT by mc6809e
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To: gridlock
An engineer will answer that question in two seconds with "3 and a half minutes". And that is the right answer, because it is delivered in two seconds, and it is pretty darn close.

A consultant would say this question does not have all the necessary information because of missing variables such as how well the two people work together, the overlap variable, the car was supply limitations if two people are using the same supplies.. etc.. You'll need to pay a consultant about $75 an hour to calculate in all those factors.
33 posted on 07/22/2005 12:16:04 PM PDT by mnehring (Fourth Estate, Fifth Column Dis-Infomers)
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To: tfecw

After having completed her high-school education in California, Soleil moved to New York City to attend the New York School for Social Research, where she studied social psychology, literature and drama.


34 posted on 07/22/2005 12:16:20 PM PDT by elc
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
"If it takes Sam six minutes to wash a car by himself," one fan asked recently, "and it takes Brian eight minutes to wash a car by himself, how long will it take them to wash a car together?"

It depends where they are at. If they live in San Francisco, it would make a big difference.

35 posted on 07/22/2005 12:16:38 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Moral Hazard
1/6 + 1/8 = 14/48 = 7/24 of a carwash-per-minute. So it takes 24/7 = 3 + 3/7 minutes. Doesn't take a math major to do that in your head.

Yeah, but if a chicken-and-a-half can lay an egg-and-a-half in a day-in-a-half, how many hens to lay six eggs in six days?

Okay, that was the easy one (with proper insight, it can be done in your head *real* easily). Now try this one:

If a hen and a half lays an egg and a half in a day and a half, how many and a half that lay better by half will lay half a score and a half in a week and a half?

36 posted on 07/22/2005 12:17:05 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: GreenLanternCorps
"If it takes Sam six minutes to wash a car by himself," one fan asked recently, "and it takes Brian eight minutes to wash a car by himself, how long will it take them to wash a car together?"

If I were washing a car with Danica McKellar, it would take well over an hour. Might get wet too.


37 posted on 07/22/2005 12:17:07 PM PDT by Uncle Miltie (Islam: Nothing BEER couldn't cure!)
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To: GreenLanternCorps

It's kind of too bad that more women aren't doing math. There is a kind of peer pressure that forces them out early, otherwise there would be twice as many mathematicians in the world. Same for science, same for philosophy of the non wimmins-philosophy type.


38 posted on 07/22/2005 12:17:11 PM PDT by RightWhale (Substance is essentially the relationship of accidents to itself)
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To: Owl_Eagle

I'd hit it.


39 posted on 07/22/2005 12:17:15 PM PDT by Fierce Allegiance (This ain't your granddaddy's America)
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To: Owl_Eagle

Apparently you have never seen real pictures from a woman's prison. SCARY STUFF, RUN OWL RUN!!!


40 posted on 07/22/2005 12:17:49 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Constitution Day
She's pretty cute now, though

All hail CD, Master of the Understatement! ;o)


41 posted on 07/22/2005 12:18:55 PM PDT by TheBigB (How in the blue hell did Kelly Leak bat three times in the Astrodome?)
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To: gridlock

LOL, exactly what I said. I'm an engineer, and now do estimating (SWAG, scientific wild ass guess to 2 decimal places)


42 posted on 07/22/2005 12:19:15 PM PDT by Fierce Allegiance (This ain't your granddaddy's America)
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To: gridlock
"An engineer will answer that question in two seconds with "3 and a half minutes". And that is the right answer, because it is delivered in two seconds, and it is pretty darn close."

The engineers who designed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge?


43 posted on 07/22/2005 12:20:43 PM PDT by GreenLanternCorps ("Dude, you've got some... Arzt on you..." - Hugo "Hurley" Reyes)
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To: mnehrling; gridlock
A consultant would say this question does not have all the necessary information because of missing variables such as how well the two people work together, the overlap variable, the car was supply limitations if two people are using the same supplies.. etc.. You'll need to pay a consultant about $75 an hour to calculate in all those factors.

Actually, you make a profound point. There's a *classic* book which covers this topic (and others) called "The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering", by Frederick P. Brooks. He points out that real-world projects seldom work out as neatly as implied by "man-month" calculations and other common management concepts, precisely because of complicating factors such as the ones you mention.

As he says by way of illustration, "it takes nine months to produce a baby, no matter how many women are assigned to the task."

44 posted on 07/22/2005 12:22:10 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon

Sorry, what did you say, I was distracted by Post #41.


45 posted on 07/22/2005 12:23:07 PM PDT by mnehring (Fourth Estate, Fifth Column Dis-Infomers)
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To: TheBigB
Shes a little stick of dynamite!


46 posted on 07/22/2005 12:23:37 PM PDT by gopwinsin04
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To: Moral Hazard; gridlock
If it takes Sam six minutes to wash a car by himself . . . and it takes Brian eight minutes to wash a car by himself, how long will it take them to wash a car together?

My first response was three-and-a-half minutes, since one guy can do half-a-car in three minutes and the other can do half-a-car in four minutes. But that would require them to divvy up the car just right, so the fast guy does a little more than the slow guy. But if they divvied up the car exactly in half, the answer would be four minutes. The fast guy would be done in three minutes, and then have to stand around for a minute waiting for the other guy to get done with his half.

47 posted on 07/22/2005 12:24:14 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson (Better yet, go to the car wash.)
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To: TheBigB
Oh, *MY*! All that and a math nerd too? Sold.

Now if I can just get my wife to approve...

48 posted on 07/22/2005 12:24:23 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: TheBigB

Oooh, I like.

I am suddenly feeling like I need to learn about ferromagnetic Ashkin–Teller models on Z2.


49 posted on 07/22/2005 12:26:19 PM PDT by Constitution Day (I am the Sultan of Oom-Papa-Mow-Mow.)
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To: GreenLanternCorps

I'd gladly examine her surface integrals.


50 posted on 07/22/2005 12:29:07 PM PDT by ThinkDifferent (These pretzels are making me thirsty)
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