Monday, January 18, 2016

Ana and son explain another cool math puzzle


Remember the card trick on YouTube, where the poster begged someone to explain how it worked? Ana and her son Julio figured it out and the explanation is here, in Ana's own handwriting.

Now they've done another one. She and her son loved a puzzle Will Shortz used on his regular feature on a recent Weekend Sunday, on NPR. It's simple (but not that easy). Here's the puzzle: 

Using only standard mathematical symbols (x, ., /, ÷,  etc.) make three nines (9, 9, and 9) equal 20. 

Ana was embarrassed that Julio figured it out before she did, but it might be because Julio grew up knowing Earth's standard mathematical notation system. Ana didn't. She came to it as an adult, when she arrived on the moon from Thomo. Thoman math uses different symbols. Our symbols are a second language to her, mathematically speaking. 

When you give up, you may find the answer, plus Julio's insightful understanding of this problem, here.

(The wildflowers--wine cups--are only a reminder of warmer weather.)

Other puzzles from our extraterrestrial Distant Cousin:




Friday, January 15, 2016

El Chapo or El Checo? Distant Cousin scoops the news again. Twice!





Fans of the Distant Cousin books already know the series has anticipated many recent and surprising events in the world today, in politics, medicine, athletics and more. (There are EIGHT examples here.) Now, in quick succession, there are two more.

In Distant Cousin: Santa Muerte, Earth's favorite extraterrestrial Ana Darcy Méndez and her daughter run into one El Checo, a notorious drug kingpin, in northern Mexico. Let's only say that their encounter turned out a little differently than the one that put the real El Chapo in the news five months after the book was published.

The second item is also from the news of the last few days: progress in the fight against river blindness, a nasty disease the World Health Organization calls a "neglected tropical disease." The lack of treatment was noted in Distant Cousin: Repatriation in 2006, chapter 32, in which Ana cannot understand why the people of Earth don't do more to fight it. Now, at last, they have. About time!

The Distant Cousin stories do NOT try to predict the future. Their genre has always been difficult to define. They take place on Earth in the present day with only humans (including Ana, the extraterrestrial), and the occasional cat or horse. They have been called character-driven western Chicano action/adventure romance sci-fi stories. Whatever they might be, they are also fun!