Vacation Rerun. New Feature: Equations of Everyday Life

Just because I’m vacationing in an alternate Universe doesn’t mean I can’t turn the blog schedule on a dime or whatever the local currency is here.  With the announcement of the new iPhone  today, I just had to give this another whirl, if only to improve my Google page ranking.

“Mathematics consists in proving the most obvious thing in the least obvious way.” — George Polya


Due to the surprisingly strong reactions to the Equations of Kid and Canine Chaosin other words, at least three other people besides me, my wife and my dogs actually read them–I had an epiphany.

Mouse Trap. The game based on Rube Goldberg’s convoluted cartoon contraptions

Are you old enough to remember Rube Goldberg?  His cartoons satirized the politics and society of the mid-20th century with drawings of hypothetical, ridiculously complex machines designed to do very simple tasks.   They were the inspiration for the game Mouse Trap and for an annual Rube Goldberg Machine contest.

But in the digital world of electronics, these analog devices are no longer relevant.  In an age where advanced mathematics can be used to predict the existence of the Higgs Boson long before developing the technology to verify it, a new approach is needed.  And of course, I have it.  Equations of Everyday Life.  These are the mathematical Rube Goldbergs of our time.

Let us begin.

Do you text and drive?  Do you Google stuff in a dark movie theaters?  Do you take Instagrams of every third thing that happens in your humdrum life?  Like most of us in this over-connected era, the more connected we are to virtual reality, the more disconnected we get from actual reality.  Just how disconnected are we?  The phenomenon is quite mathematically reducible, I have discovered, and I call it:


Don’t be deceived.  It is far more complicated than it looks.   Where attention to the outside world in the absence of a smart phone (Aa)equals 1, then attention to the outside world in the presence of a smartphone (As) is approximately equal to the inverse of the number of cool apps on said smartphone (n) times the I-Phone or equivalent model number (m).    Yes, approximately equal to—because nothing is that precise in the quantum mechanical world of electronics, and anyway I like using that smart looking squiggly thingy over the equal sign.   Taking the example of my own I-Phone 4, I have 14 apps I would describe as being “cool.”  As 14 x 4 is 56, then when I am packing my phone, my attention level to the outside world is an astonishingly small 1/56th of normal.  This is dangerous.  As I’m reputed to be a major space shot to begin with,  I should probably be banned from breathing and texting at the same time.   But that calculation can wait for another day, as even the basics get much more complicated.


What happens when you jump to the I-Phone 4s and add the pernicious feature known as Siri?

It gets ugly in a hurry.  The equation now looks like this:

Yikes!  We now have to square the denominator and in the personal example stated above, my attention level would be 1/562of my normally spaced out self.  This computes to 1/3136.

I don’t know if the Planck length applies to this,  but a few more apps and new models and my attention level will certainly approach it.  Also note that the “s” on the right side of the equation stands for Siri and has no numerical value.  It just makes the equation appear more complex and disguises my general ignorance of advanced mathematics. Anyway ,this demonstrates why I don’t have Siri.  If I did, I would have proposed to her long ago and been off to Vegas for a quickie divorce from my wife by now.  Ah, for the days when the internet was still in black and white.

Coming soon: The Index of Inane Celebrity Meme Virality.


  1. You crack me up…exponentially with each post I read. Jen

  2. Thanks for reminding about Rube Goldberg!!! Those were the days!!! Now we have a new iPhone and I still haven’t figured out my last one yet?!!!!

  3. One advantage of not having an iphone is being blissfully ignorant of what it can do, how fast it can do it, and how much attention it takes away from the simple tasks of daily life, like brushing one’s teeth. Hey, I’m still writing letters and sending Birthday greetings through the mail. I actually use a pencil sometimes, and an eraser (remember those?). Anyway, thanks, Mark, for another brilliant blog.

  4. I like this. But you knew that, right? 🙂

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