Advent facts III

Behind today’s door… More fascinating facts!


This post was part of the Chalkdust 2016 Advent Calendar.

Welcome to the twenty-first day of the 2016 Chalkdust Advent Calendar. Today, we bring you our final selection of fascinatingT&Cs apply facts, randomly generated by Santa’s elves.  Remember to send us your favourite scientific curiosities via Facebook, Twitter or email and we’ll feature the best in a blog next year.

The number 21

Setter of fiendish conjectures.

Today is the 21st day of the Chalkdust Advent calendar. The numbers 8 and 9 are the only powers of integers ($2^3$ and $3^2$ respectively) that are consecutive. This was conjectured by the Belgian mathematician Eugène Charles Catalan in 1844. It was proved in 2002 by Preda Mihailescu. Unlike Andrew Wiles, who proved Fermat’s last theorem, Mihailescu didn’t shoot to fame. This had absolutely nothing to do with the number 21.

Rudolph the red-nosed she-reindeer

Female. Female. Not male.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer is very confused as to why she has a male name. Male reindeers shed their antlers once they’ve finished using them as swords during the mating season in autumn, while females cast them in spring and regrow them in time for Christmas (when they use them as swords to fight other females over holes in the snow). I’m sure she is confused for many other reasons too. Such as why she has a red nose.

Father Christmas and the multiverse

If the multiverse theory is correct, and our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, there may be one in which Father Christmas was not popularised by Coke adverts of the 1920s.

And that’s that from Santa’s elves. They’re off to find Rudelle.

[Pictures. Eugène Charles Catlan: Public domain; Rudelle: Tristan Ferne, CC BY-2.0]

Pietro is interested in history and sport. He also happens to be doing a PhD in fluid dynamics at UCL. If he can combine any two of the three it makes him a happy man.

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