25 January 2007

Too much information

A light hearted sideshow on the information strand being batted back and forth betweenDrC, Jim Putnam, and myself, and particularly Dr C's comments on the memorising of it.

Some of my students were discussing their favourite mnemonics, earlier this week. You know the sort of thing - "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain" for the colour order of the spectrum, or "Many Very Energetic Mothers Jump Somersaults Under NinePins" for the planets outward from the sun (though that second one will have to be changed with recent redefinition of what constitutes a planet).

One of them said that when at school she remembered the distinction between radius and diameter by thinking of the radius (a bone) in her forearm. If she flexed her arm, her hand describes a circular arc - the radius of which was the length of her forearm.

Her friend replied that she remembered it from the other direction. The diameter, she pointed out, goes straight through the circle, from one side to the other "... and the prefix dia "means 'through' - as in diarrhoea".

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