Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Super" Bad Math

On a game show last week, the host asked his contestants, "How many letters are in the word, 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'?"

If you say it loud enough...
I had roughly two seconds to come up with my guess. I blurted out, "35!". The correct answer is 34, so I was pretty happy.

"How did you do that?", my wife asked.

"Well, I said the word in my head and came up with 8 syllables. I figured there were about 6 letters in each syllable, and 8 times 6 is 35."

We basked in my genius for a minute. Then, my wife turned her head sideways a bit and said, "Wait... 8 times 6... is?..."

"Thirty-five," I confirmed. Then I blinked. "Uh. Wait. Not 35. Uh. Hm. Well. Uh..."

There was a long moment of silence. Then, my wife said, "Are you sure there are 8 syllables?"

"Of course," I scoffed. I began to count them out on my hand. "Sue. Per. Cal. Ee. Fra. Gil. Is. Tic.... Uh..."

‎(x + a)² =
x² + 2ax + a²
Turns out there are 14 syllables in the word.

"Well done," my wife said. While grinning.

"Look, I still got the question right!"

"You were off by one," she pointed out.


It's not easy being me.


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