### Combinatorics and LCMs

Working through the problems in Niven's book on combinatorics, I came across the following one that cleverly introduces least-common-multiples without saying any of those words.  The book asks the following question:

How many numbers that are evenly divisible by 11 exist between 1 and 2000?  How many that aren't also evenly divisible by 3?  How many numbers that are evenly divisible by 6, but not by 4 exist between 1 and 2000?

The hastily scribbled answer can be seen below, with each of the answers boxed in succession down the screen.

By simply dividing 2000 by 11, we find out how many integers between 1 and 2000 are evenly divisible by 11.  In other words, we ask how many multiples of 11 can fit between 1 and 2000.  When we want to eliminate the multiples of 3, that's when the least common multiple comes in.  We already have the answer for all numbers divisible by 11, but how to eliminate those also divisible by 3?  By first asking what number divisible by 11 are also divisible by three, we arrive at an answer.  The first number divisible by both is 33, or 3 X 11.  Then next is 66, and then 99, and so on, (if you're working it out by hand, it's easier to count by 11's than 3's).  As it turns out, only multiples of the least common multiple (LCM) of 3 and 11, (33), are divisible by both 3 and 11.  Now, we just need to figure out how many copies of numbers divisible by 33 are between 1 and 2000, and then subtract that number from the total number of integers divisible by 11 we calculated earlier to get the answer to the 'divisible by 11, but not 3' question.

The divisible by 6, but not 4 questions is similar.  In this case, the lowest common multiple of 6 and 4, in other words, the smallest number they'll both divide evenly, is 12.  By removing all the numbers divisible by 12 from 1 to 2000 from the count of integers between 1 and 2000 that are divisible by 6, we wind up with the answer to "How many integers between 1 and 2000 are divisible by 6, but not by 4?"

### Cool Math Tricks: Deriving the Divergence, (Del or Nabla) into New (Cylindrical) Coordinate Systems

The following is a pretty lengthy procedure, but converting the divergence, (nabla, del) operator between coordinate systems comes up pretty often. While there are tables for converting between common coordinate systems, there seem to be fewer explanations of the procedure for deriving the conversion, so here goes!

What do we actually want?

To convert the Cartesian nabla

to the nabla for another coordinate system, say… cylindrical coordinates.

What we’ll need:

1. The Cartesian Nabla:

2. A set of equations relating the Cartesian coordinates to cylindrical coordinates:

3. A set of equations relating the Cartesian basis vectors to the basis vectors of the new coordinate system:

How to do it:

Use the chain rule for differentiation to convert the derivatives with respect to the Cartesian variables to derivatives with respect to the cylindrical variables.

The chain rule can be used to convert a differential operator in terms of one variable into a series of differential operators in terms of othe…

### Lab Book 2014_07_10 More NaI Characterization

Summary: Much more plunking around with the NaI detector and sources today.  A Pb shield was built to eliminate cosmic ray muons as well as potassium 40 radiation from the concreted building.  The spectra are much cleaner, but still don't have the count rates or distinctive peaks that are expected.
New to the experiment?  Scroll to the bottom to see background and get caught up.
Lab Book Threshold for the QVT is currently set at -1.49 volts.  Remember to divide this by 100 to get the actual threshold voltage. A new spectrum recording the lines of all three sources, Cs 137, Co 60, and Sr 90, was started at approximately 10:55. Took data for about an hour.
Started the Cs 137 only spectrum at about 11:55 AM

Here’s the no-source background from yesterday
In comparison, here’s the 3 source spectrum from this morning.

The three source spectrum shows peak structure not exhibited by the background alone. I forgot to take scope pictures of the Cs137 run. I do however, have the printout, and…

### Unschooling Math Jams: Squaring Numbers in their own Base

Some of the most fun I have working on math with seven year-old No. 1 is discovering new things about math myself.  Last week, we discovered that square of any number in its own base is 100!  Pretty cool!  As usual we figured it out by talking rather than by writing things down, and as usual it was sheer happenstance that we figured it out at all.  Here’s how it went.

I've really been looking forward to working through multiplication ala binary numbers with seven year-old No. 1.  She kind of beat me to the punch though: in the last few weeks she's been learning her multiplication tables in base 10 on her own.  This became apparent when five year-old No. 2 decided he wanted to do some 'schoolwork' a few days back.

"I can sing that song... about the letters? all by myself now!"  2 meant the alphabet song.  His attitude towards academics is the ultimate in not retaining unnecessary facts, not even the name of the song :)

After 2 had worked his way through the so…