Friday, March 5, 2010

Plus or minus

Yesterday while I was signing myself out for lunch and a quick run to the bank, I noticed that many of my co-workers use the plus or minus sign to indicate an approximation of when they would be coming back to the office. I've always kind of enjoyed the symbol and even considered getting a pretentious plus or minus tattoo somewhere. Luckily for me, I decided against it.

For me, the plus or minus symbol can be used in everyday life as an approximation of time. Back in grade school, the symbol represents possible solutions to algebra equations that can be either negative or positive.

For example the solution to: y = | x | allows solutions of x to be either negative or postive, because of the absolute value function. Another example: 4 = x squared. The solutions for this very simple equation are plus or minus two, because squaring either will give you an answer of positive 4.

The simplicity of the symbol, what it represents, and the way it looks are some of the reasons why I love the plus or minus symbol and mathematical symbols in general.

I searched online to see what kinds of things I would come up with. There are is a myspace group called plus/minus, a techno music forum, and an avant-garde octet from Belgium.

The more interesting links that come up on Google are a decision making tool that I might actually use in the future, and finally the plus or minus game.

Try it out! The plus or minus game is very simple to play, but I have yet to figure out how to win the game consistently. There is a cryptic solution/hint to winning, but I need some more practice to figure out the hint and start winning. I can win with just five digits, but seven is more tough. *edit* I figured it out. I can't mathematically figure it out right now, but I'm so nerdy that I am almost tempted to spend the rest of my day trying to figure it out.

All links and pictures are from Google.


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