The Petrol Crisis

Last week, the Government issued a warning of sorts to motorists that there was a potential strike on the horizon, by the petrol tanker drivers. But unfortunately, they were a little too severe in their warnings, and this led to panic-buying across the country. Cue queues for hours at the pumps, everyone desperate to fill their cars, the pumps running dry, and people even taking dangerous and unnecessary measures to ensure that they obtained enough fuel. All manner of containers were being used to hold petrol, such as paint cans, watering cans, and goodness knows what else. There were even reports of a lady who ended up with third degree burns after moving some petrol through her kitchen, whilst the hob was on. Which of course led to an explosion, and her disastrous consequence.

After letting the country send themselves crazy for a few days, the Government came back on TV, and told us that we’ve nothing to fear. It was just a precaution to keep us updated. In fact, if, that’s if the tanker drivers were going to go on strike, they would legally have to give us a 7-day period in advance, to allow us to prepare.

Well thanks very much. All that for nothing. They don’t even know if there is definitely going to be a strike at all. The British Government does us proud once more.

I watched all of this from afar (after refuelling, of course), and then today’s Thought of the Day hit me. What if, just what if, in a few days from now, the petrol prices were to decrease? Okay, petrol (or anything in fact) rarely decreases in price. But it does occasionally. Just sometimes.

What if this was all a clever manipulation from the Government to squeeze a few extra pounds out of us? To frighten us into panic-buying, before the prices were reduced?

Or, it could just be a genuine caring act from the Government to make life as smooth as possible for us…

Watch this space.

An Urban Myth

There is an urban myth that water will swirl down a sink in an anti-clockise direction in the Northern hemisphere, and in a clockwise direction in the Southern hemisphere. This is due to a force called the Coriolis effect, discovered by a French scientist by the name of Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis, in 1835. Here is a definition of the Coriolis effect:

“An effect whereby a mass moving in a rotating system experiences a force (theCoriolis force) acting perpendicular to the direction of motion and to the axis of rotation. On the earth, the effect tends to deflect moving objects to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern and is important in the formation of cyclonic weather systems.”

But the myth is not true. At least not for small bodies of water like sinks, toilets, or baths. It only works on large bodies of water, or mass, such as whirlpools in the ocean, or hurricanes.

You can test this in your bathroom, next time you take a shower. Watch which direction the water swirls down the plughole, then take the shower head and direct the water in the other direction. The water will follow whichever direction has the greatest “push” (like the jet of water from the shower head). Now try the sink – in a sink full of water, let the water drain, then turn the direction around using your finger. See? It’s not the Coriolis effect at work, it’s just the shape of your sink or bath that causes it – and that would be the case whether you were in the Northern or Southern hemisphere.

As they say on one of my favourite TV programmes, “Myth Busted” :0)

A Problem Of Sorts

If we take the three-digit number 999 and write it in words as NINE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE, we can see that it’s four elements have 4, 7, 3, and 10 letters. If we multiply 4 x 7 x 3 x 10, we get 840, which is some way from the 999 that we started with. I invite you to find a three-digit number such that if you multiply together the numbers of it’s four elements, you get the number that you started with. What is that three-digit number?

I thought about this, and looked at it logically, trying to spot a pattern that might be applied, to reach the solution. I could, of course, fall back on the old trial and error method, working from 101-999, but this would be time consuming, and not what the creator of the enigma had in mind. This is what I found:

Firstly, the elements which are constant, are HUNDRED and AND, which gives us 7, and 3. Well, 7 x 3 = 21, so 21 is a constant multiple.

There are 49 numbers between 101-999 which are divisible by 21.

ONE, TWO, and SIX are three letters, which gives us 3 x 21 = 63

FOUR, FIVE, and NINE are four letters, which gives us 4 x 21 = 84

THREE, SEVEN, and EIGHT are five letters, which gives us 5 x 21 = 105

105 x the final element would most likely give an answer too high

84 x the final element would also likely give an answer too high

Therefore, only ONE, TWO, and SIX are left. However, 100 and 200 are likely to be too low, which then leaves 600.

Numbers between 601-699, which are divisible by 21, are 630 and 693.

630 works out as 3 x 7 x 3 x 6 = 378 – This does not match.

693 works out as 3 x 7 x 3 x 11 = 693 – This matches.

Therefore 693 is the answer :0)

For those who are less mathematically-minded, I also worked it out in a lengthier, more explanatory way.

You’ll find this here:

Firstly, we know that we have constants of the elements HUNDRED and AND. This is because whatever answer we reach, it has to contain these elements. There are 7 letters in the word HUNDRED, and 3 letters in the word AND, which means that 3 and 7 are constant multiples. 3 x 7 =21, so 21 is an easier way of dealing with the constant multiple.

The only other possible multiples in the first element are 3, 4, and 5. This is because ONE, TWO, and SIX = 3 letters. FOUR, FIVE, and NINE = 4 letters. THREE, SEVEN, and EIGHT = 5 letters.

So,

3 x 21 = 63

4 x 21 = 84

5 x 21 = 105

This means that now, our only possible multiples are 63, 84, and 105. This makes it much easier to handle the rest of the problem.

Now for the final element. Most of the final elements are 6 letters or more (ELEVEN upwards), which means that the answer is likely (not definitely) 600 upwards. This is because

63 x 6 = 342 as an absolute minimum

84 x 6 = 504 as an absolute minimum

105 x 6 = 630 as an absolute minimum

This effectively (almost) rules out any numbers beginning with ONE, TWO, THREE, or FOUR (because the answers would be too high to match their descriptions). But we can quickly and easily explore these, as there are only 3 possible multiples, per first element (3, 4, and 5 again, ONE, TWO, SIX = 3, FOUR, FIVE, NINE = 4, THREE, SEVEN, EIGHT = 5).

So,

63 x 3 = 189 (ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY NINE) = 3 x 21 x 10 = 630

63 x 4 = 252 (TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY TWO) = 3 x 21 x 8 = 504

63 x 5 = 315 (THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN) = 3 x 21 x 7 = 735

84 x 3 = 252 (TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY TWO) = 3 x 21 x 8 = 504

84 x 4 = 336 (THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SIX) = 3 x 21 x 9 = 945

84 x 5 = 504 (FIVE HUNDRED AND FOUR) = 3 x 21 x 4 = 336

105 x 3 = 315 (THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN) = 5 x 21 x 7 = 735

105 x 4 = 420 (FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY) = 4 x 21 x 6 = 504

105 x 5 = 525 (FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE) = 4 x 21 x 10 = 840

As you can see, most of the answers on the far right are much higher than their decriptions. This also eradicates FORTY, FIFTY, and SIXTY as possible elements predecessing the final element (as this would make the answer too low to match it’s higher description).

This leaves FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, and NINE HUNDRED, as possibilities. But the final element gives us a lot of possible multiples – anything from 3 to 11 (3 being ONE, TWO, SIX, 11 being for example THIRTY SEVEN). So, if we try this,

(FIVE and NINE both equal 4)

4 x 21 x 3 = 252 – No need to figure out as it begins with TWO

4 x 21 x 4 = 336 – No need to figure out as it begins with THREE

4 x 21 x 5 = 420 – No need to figure out as it begins with FOUR

4 x 21 x 6 = 504 (FIVE HUNDRED AND FOUR = 4 x 21 x 4 = 336)

4 x 21 x 7 = 588 (FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT = 4 x 21 x 11 = 924)

4 x 21 x 8 = 672 – No need to figure out as it begins with SIX

4 x 21 x 9 = 766 – No need to figure out as it begins with SEVEN

4 x 21 x 10 = 840 – No need to figure out as it begins with EIGHT

4 x 21 x 11 = 924 – (NINE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FOUR =4x21x10=840)

SIX equals 3

3 x 21 x 3 = 189  – No need to figure out as it begins with ONE

3 x 21 x 4 = 252 – No need to figure out as it begins with TWO

3 x 21 x 5 = 315 – No need to figure out as it begins with THREE

3 x 21 x 6 = 378 – No need to figure out as it begins with THREE

3 x 21 x 7 = 441 – No need to figure out as it begins with FOUR

3 x 21 x 8 = 504 – No need to figure out as it begins with FIVE

3 x 21 x 9 = 567 – No need to figure out as it begins with FIVE

3 x 21 x 10 = 630 (SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY = 3 x 21 x 6 = 378)

3 x 21 x 11 = 693 (SIX HUNDRED AND NINETY THREE = 3 x 21 x 11 = 693)

SEVEN and EIGHT both equal 5

5 x 21 x 3 = 315 – No need to figure out as it begins with THREE

5 x 21 x 4 = 420 – No need to figure out as it begins with FOUR

5 x 21 x 5 = 525 – No need to figure out as it begins with FIVE

5 x 21 x 6 = 630 – No need to figure out as it begins with SIX

5 x 21 x 7 = 735 (SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE = 5x 21 x 10 = 840)

5 x 21 x 8 = 840 (EIGHT HUNDRED AND FORTY = 5 x 21 x 5 = 525)

5 x 21 x 9 = 945 – No need to figure out as it begins with NINE

5 x 21 x 10 = 1050 – Not possible as it has to be between 101-999

5 x 21 x 11 = 1155 – Not possible as it has to be between 101-999

You will see from my workings that only one of the possibles actually matches up – 693, and when you write it out, it works:

SIX HUNDRED AND NINETY THREE = 3 x 7 x 3 x (6 + 5) = 693.

693 is the answer :0)

That Friday Feeling

I always thought that we consumed more fish and chips (from the chip shop), on a Friday night (more so than on other nights of the week) because by Friday, we were all tired from working all week, therefore being lazy and not wanting to cook. Hence Friday night = a visit to the chip shop, and that that was just another Great British tradition. But today, I learnt that in actual fact, the real reason behind it is that originally, when Christianity became more popular and more accepted within England, we were encouraged to not eat meat on Fridays, which then led to us eating only fish on a Friday instead, and this tradition still lives on today.

Kodak Moments

I wonder how much it costs to install, run, and maintain temporary speed cameras which are used during road works.

It looks and seems to be quite a long and arduous task, and it is only necessary because the human race cannot be trusted to follow instruction and rules. If the money and labour was not spent on this, I wonder where else it would be used. Or, if the income generated from the cameras themselves overrides the original input, and in actual fact creates a profit of sorts, hence providing more money and labour for other tasks or projects which need work. I also wonder if then, that the cameras are not set up solely because we cannot be trusted, or to protect the lives and the safety of the road workers (as we are told), but in reality set up almost as a business venture to generate extra income? Therefore not only lining the pockets of various associated people, such as te DVLA, the Police and the government, but also acting as a multipurpose operation, working in alliance with the insurance companies (the more driving convictions one has, the higher the premium)? Or maybe it is just for our safety after all…