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© Richard Knight
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Photo Info
UploadedJanuary 17, 2011
TakenAugust 19, 2010
ModelCanon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure1/200 sec at f/11
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length11.818 mm
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

[Page, Arizona]

When I was in Page, Arizona last summer, I drove into the residential district and discovered 8th Avenue, the “Street of the Little Motels.”

That is where I saw this sign. I knew that it had to be important in the grand scheme of things!

It reminded me of “New Math.”


If you are 55 or older, you probably do.

New Math was introduced in response to Soviet engineering. The “Sputnik crisis” supposedly proved that America was falling behind in mathematics.

[“Sputnik” was the name of the Soviet satellite placed into orbit in 1957, long before the U.S. was ready to place its own satellite into orbit.]

New Math focused on a number of bases (other than ten), set theory, diagrams, functions, and matrices, to say nothing of algebraic inequalities and abstractions. Everyone would soon know that 4 + 4 = 10 in the base of 8.

I was caught in the vortex. In high school, I took something called “trig functions” my junior year and “matrix functions” my senior year. With all due respect, these courses proved to be of no value to me in the last 45 years.

Unfortunately, New Math introduced New Problems, namely, teachers that couldn’t teach it and parents that didn’t understand it.

By the end of the 1960s, New Math was kaput. One professor put it this way: “New Math produced students who had heard of the commutative law, but did not know the multiplication table.”

And, we still beat the Russians to the moon!

I am linking Tom Lehrer’s “New Math.” It’s not gibberish, believe it or not. As they say, “do the math!”

As always, thanks for stopping by!

49 responses

  • Kathleen Mercado

    Kathleen Mercado (Deleted) said (17 Jan 2011):

    What's math????!!!:)

  • Debbie Smartt

    Debbie Smartt gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    That is funny Dick!

  • Maria Mutch

    Maria Mutch (Deleted) gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    I love that sign --I figure with something that witty the apocalypse can't be all bad...

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    I was never a whiz at solving complicated problems in math let alone new math..LOL....Love the picture and the humor.

  • Jim Ford

    Jim Ford (Deleted) gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    Thanks for the sunshine, a great sign, a smile and dialog on new math....-10 here by Lake Ontario this morning.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    New math...old math...it didn't matter...it all bored me to death...I managed to graduate college without ever taking a math course (I substituted economics).

  • elfriede fulda

    elfriede fulda (Deleted) gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    Oh,,this is so interesting..I guess I took the new Math,,but as our daughters went to school here in Canada there was an even newer Math..don't ask me about it,,I couldn't help them much,,although I had the same result there was a formula in the way they calculated everything,,mine seemed to be short form,,my how things change ,,all to say this is great lol!

  • Ron LaFond

    Ron LaFond gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    Hahahahaha! Hehehehehehe! Hahahahahaha! (taking a breath . . . . . . ) Hahahahaha! R

  • dp *

    dp * gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    8-) ... for what reason would one add these figures, way cool a "nebulas" number 8-)

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    LOL!! I was just ahead of New Math, and escaped its confusing grip, but my younger sister didn't. She is still not sure of her multiplication skills. This sign would probably make sense to her. Great find and capture, Dick!

  • Carlo Pagan

    Carlo Pagan gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    Very nice photo! EXCELLENT!!!

  • Carol Arntsen Masiak

    Carol Arntsen Masiak gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    love the capture, humor and recall of new math - i esp remember my parents' faces when they returned from the required evening new math class for parents!

  • Richard Knight

    Richard Knight said (17 Jan 2011):

    Thanks everyone for the nice faves and props. As "boomers," we were often guinea pigs! Carol, I had completely forgotten that the parents were called in for a mandatory meeting! But now I remember that! LOL

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon   gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    Well, as quirky as it may be.. it does add up!! Love the story of the 'new math'. I will be eternally grateful that my mother, a teacher, insisted we know the basics.. the rest is really just fluff.. in my humble opinion..LOL!! Great find and capture, Richard!

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    You always find something interesting and add a special snippit to it. I love it Dick!

  • Betty Maxey

    Betty Maxey   gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    Too funny! I remember all the huff.... but it was never my strong point! Thank GOD there are calculators!!!

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (17 Jan 2011):

    LOL!!! This is wonderful (as usual)

  • Suzanne McGeady

    Suzanne McGeady said (17 Jan 2011):

    Like the wooden man in your picture, I had a good laugh. Oh that Math music is genius! . And when you 'turned the Page' was there any 'carry overs' on the other side of the sign? LOL! I still have confusions with Maths in its various forms.

  • Mykola Swarnyk

    Mykola Swarnyk gave props (18 Jan 2011):

    Funny! and interesting explanation...

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (18 Jan 2011):

    Suppose that the square root of 2 were a rational number, so by definition the square root of 2 = a/b where a and b are non-zero integers with no common factor. Thus, b x the square root of 2 = a. Squaring both sides yields 2 x b squared = a squared. Since 2 divides the left hand side, 2 must also divide the right hand side (as they are equal and both integers). So a squared is even, which implies that a must also be even. So we can write a = 2c, where c is also an integer. Substitution into the original equation yields 2b squared = (2c) squared = 4 x c squared. Dividing both sides by 2 yields b squared = 2 x c squared. But then, by the same argument as before, 2 divides b squared, so b must be even. However, if a and b are both even, they share a factor, namely 2. This contradicts our assumption, so we are forced to conclude that the square root of 2 is an irrational number. And I only say that because I was a math major, and because I love your photo!!

  • Richard Knight

    Richard Knight said (18 Jan 2011):

    Thank you, Susan. So well said!!!

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham gave props (18 Jan 2011):

    I am so so glad to have missed this math all together. General math made me throw many a math book across the room. LOL. I still don't understand the purpose of the addition in the sign. Perhaps they just wanted to show that they could add. A great find and capture BB!

  • peggy maguire

    peggy maguire said (18 Jan 2011):

    I love the photo too Sue,but have no idea what you just said.....Peggy

  • P. Michael Bodigor

    P. Michael Bodigor gave props (18 Jan 2011):

    Great photo.

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    A funny find and a great capture. My heads still spinning over Susan's comment.

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    I will leave to Susan to figure everything out. Good catch, RV!

  • Patty Gross

    Patty Gross (Deleted) gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    I LOVE this photo, and I love Page, AZ. Your narrative, as always, is hilarious, educational, and very riveting from beginning to end. But I shut down when I try to think about anything "math", which comes from working for years as a financial analyst at Nellis AFB, and as an IRS Officer in Las Vegas. However, I see the humour in your wonderful narrative and remember the beauty of this area which is at the entrance to the Grand Canyon. Excellent find, Richard......which is what we've come to expect from you, EXCELLENCE!!!!!

  • Maura Wolfson-Foster

    Maura Wolfson-Foster gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    What a great photo.....!!! :)

  • Camera Junkie

    Camera Junkie gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    Lol... Richard, that is GREAT!!!

  • Michael Ball

    Michael Ball gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    I always enjoy your information and photos!! Excellent Dick!!

  • Debrah Leonard

    Debrah Leonard (Deleted) gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    Richard, do you have a new camera? ! Your photography is rockin!

  • Steven Schutz

    Steven Schutz gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    Another grat shot from the King as well as a great history lesson...Math makes my brain hurt....I first shought of Fuzzy math..Love the face on the right.....

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    Very nice photo! EXCELLENT!!!

  • Lanis Rossi

    Lanis Rossi gave props (19 Jan 2011):

    Unfortunately I was never good at the old math!

  • Bruce Miller

    Bruce Miller (Deleted) gave props (20 Jan 2011):

    We has new math in england in the late 60's but didn't hear about it again in Canada. I love the additiion of those random numbres being added up in a meaningless way.

  • eithne mythen

    eithne mythen gave props (20 Jan 2011):

    Brilliant and I love the motorhome, just think where I could travel in that..

  • Leslie Hunziker

    Leslie Hunziker gave props (20 Jan 2011):

    excellent! i haven't even mastered the "old" math. this looks like a great photo op!!

  • Jean Pierre Vacherot

    Jean Pierre Vacherot (Deleted) gave props (21 Jan 2011):


  • Joy B

    Joy B gave props (21 Jan 2011):

    Oh, I love this!!

  • dana io

    dana io said (22 Jan 2011):

    Oh we also did a lot of "New Math" here on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Perhaps under different names : ) My guess, here they're still doing it!

  • Lise Utne

    Lise Utne gave props (22 Jan 2011):

    Interesting story as always, and it looks like quite some place!

  • Nelson Campbell

    Nelson Campbell (Deleted) gave props (22 Jan 2011):

    Hmmmm....Very funny!! ;-)

  • Gary Benefield

    Gary Benefield gave props (24 Jan 2011):


  • Brad Paro

    Brad Paro gave props (24 Jan 2011):

    Ha ha......great commentary Richard!

  • Carl Kuntze

    Carl Kuntze gave props (24 Jan 2011):

    Like you, I'm mostly point and shoot. Notice digital only reproduces accurate colors in proper light. Good judgement.

  • Warren ~Mangione~

    Warren ~Mangione~ gave props (26 Jan 2011):

    LOL@Suz!!! My mind has been blown since my statistics professor told me that there is an infinite number of numbers between 0 and 1! Loved the video! Cool shot!

  • Marco Martinez

    Marco Martinez gave props (13 Feb 2011):

    This is absolutely hilarious. I don't know if this sign is funnier than your story on New Math. (I didn't know if I should believe your narrative on New Math. But, I found, that New Math was very real.) On "New Math" from Wikipedia I found the following great quote: "Lehrer explained that 'Base 8 is just like Base 10 If you're missing two finger[s].'" Thanks for the lesson and the exploration that it ensued.

  • Christopher J Chalk

    Christopher J Chalk gave props (3 Mar 2011):

    So if I were Irish, the population of this town would be 13,457 with 6,257 who founded elevation - :)

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