Maths - Well, I never knew that

23rd December 2011 at 00:00
A miscellany of fascinating facts will delight the curious-minded

I am not a fan of change. As a consequence, I am driving the second-hand Nissan Micra I purchased five years ago, and I slumped into a three-week depression when Simon Cowell left The X-Factor. And so it is that every Christmas I ask Santa for the latest edition of Schott's Almanac by Ben Schott.

For those of you who are not aware of this publication, it is released annually at this time of year and is a compendium of fascinating facts and lists on a whole manner of topics.

This year, instead of bringing out a 2012 edition, Mr Schott has thrown a curve ball and released Schott's Quintessential Miscellany - a celebration of the previous eight years of his almanacs and miscellanies, which have sold over 2.5 million copies and been translated into 20 different languages.

I would normally wait until Christmas Day to delve into my lovely new book, but seeing as TES asked nicely, Santa has delivered it early so I can give you a glimpse into its contents.

Like previous editions, I find that the best way to read Schott's Quintessential Miscellany is not to studiously work your way from front to back. Instead, let the laws of chance guide you and simply flick open a page at random to see what awaits. I did this very thing, and here is what I found:

Page 74 - a complete list of Alfred Hitchcock's cameos in films from 1926 to 1976. Did you know that in The Birds, Mr Hitchcock can be seen exiting a pet shop with two small dogs?

Page 103 - the 20 traditional counting terms employed by shepherds when counting sheep. Have you ever wondered what the collective term is for nine sheep? Well, it's "covera".

Page 96 - the 11 options for your relationship status on Facebook. Everyone knows "single" and "it's complicated", but what about "in a domestic partnership"?

Page 134 - a selection of gypsy slang. Did you know that "rumboozing wets" are a bunch of grapes, and if your husband is a "top diver" then you had better keep your eye on him?

What other book can give you all this? Maybe if Schott made a few more references to teenage, love-sick vampires he would entice a whole new category of reader. He might even become a bestseller.

Craig Barton is an advanced skills teacher and creator of Find him on Twitter @mrbartonmaths. His latest novel, "Secrets and Mince Pies", is available for the Kindle for #163;1.71

What else?

Students more interested in Twilight than trigonometry? Try Amanda Goddard's inspirational quotes for the maths classroom.

For fun, active maths try chuckierish's Tarsia game.

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