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Winnie Knows Math
February 25, 2005 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Danica McKellar —the former star of The Wonder Years—has her own web site. It's got a great feature where she answers your math questions. No, really. She's got a degree in mathematics and co-authored a paper on percolation and Ashkin-Teller models. No, really.
posted by bbrown (43 comments total)

 
And, of course, the obligatory link to Josh Saviano's post-Wonder Years activities. {via}
posted by bbrown at 10:18 PM on February 25, 2005


Wow. She was on The West Wing as that guy's brother. I didn't even recognize her. Her face got pudgy. But that's cool. Actually, it's wonderfully fine.
posted by bitpart at 10:42 PM on February 25, 2005


...this might just be her best week ever.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:48 PM on February 25, 2005


Wonder what her Erdos number is?
posted by edgeways at 10:59 PM on February 25, 2005


HAWT.
posted by keswick at 11:00 PM on February 25, 2005


No, really.. . . No, really.

Sounds like somebody can't wrap their head around the concept of a female with a degree in math. What's up with that?
posted by spock at 11:04 PM on February 25, 2005


Sounds like somebody can't wrap their head around the concept of a female with a degree in math. What's up with that?

I think it's more that an actor has a high level of competency with math. It's like finding out Dolph Lundgren has a masters degree in chemical engineering and was awarded a scholarship to MIT.
posted by juv3nal at 11:09 PM on February 25, 2005


Barbie: "Math is hard!"
posted by crunchland at 11:10 PM on February 25, 2005


And, of course, the obligatory link to Josh Saviano's post-Wonder Years activities.

Gah! He's gone EVIL! I liked him! (Okay, so pre-pubescent me had a raging crush on him.)
posted by amandaudoff at 11:15 PM on February 25, 2005


Josh Saviano's post-Wonder Years activities

Wait a second - I thought Josh Saviano was dead/Marylin Manson?
posted by Quartermass at 11:23 PM on February 25, 2005


The math answers section isn't a real web page though, it's a page test and a .gif
posted by nomad at 11:28 PM on February 25, 2005


This news is eight years old, isn't it? I mean, am I just imagining it, or hasn't Danica McKellar had this page up where she answers your math questions for somewhere between six & eight years?
posted by jonson at 11:31 PM on February 25, 2005


And the late-80s rapper Young M.C. holds a degree in Economics from USC, apparently. Smart celebrities -- nice to read about.
posted by davidmsc at 11:46 PM on February 25, 2005


I think it's more that an actor has a high level of competency with math. It's like finding out Dolph Lundgren has a masters degree in chemical engineering and was awarded a scholarship to MIT.
Bad example. He can't act.
posted by notmydesk at 11:54 PM on February 25, 2005


Wonder what her Erdos number is?

4. MathSciNet has a "collaboration distance" function in their search engine. And next to the entry field for the second author's name, there's a "Use Erdos" button.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:01 AM on February 26, 2005


Wonder what her Erdos number is?

As mr_roboto said, it's 4; also, her Bacon number is 2, thus giving her an Erdos-Bacon number of 6.

According to this, the only people with lower Erdos-Bacon numbers are Dave Bayer, a math prof who served as a consultant for and had a bit part in A Beautiful Mind, and Brian Greene, a physics prof who served as a consultant for and had a cameo in Frequency. They both have Erdos-Bacon numbers of 5 and (coincidentally) both are at Columbia.

To beat these two, Danica will have to either:

1) Co-author a paper with someone with an Erdos number of 1
2) Appear in a movie with Kevin Bacon and co-author a paper with someone with an Erdos number less than or equal to 2
3) Appear in a movie with Kevin Bacon and wait for either Lincoln Chayes or Brandy Winn to co-author a paper with someone with an Erdos number of 1

Of course, if we count only substantive acting roles for the calculation of Bacon numbers, Winnie Cooper already has 'em beat. In fact, by that standard, she might be the only one with a finite Erdos-Bacon number.
posted by mhum at 12:55 AM on February 26, 2005


That makes her one of the few people who have finite Erdos and Bacon numbers.

The Oracle says: Danica McKellar has a Bacon number of 2.

Danica McKellar was in Raising Genius (2004) with Clint Howard
Clint Howard was in My Dog Skip (2000) with Kevin Bacon

Funny you'd think instead of making up stories about Paul being Marilyn Manson all those family values groups could point to the real example of Winnie to guide young minds.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:58 AM on February 26, 2005


Curses, foiled again.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:59 AM on February 26, 2005


Little Winnie Cooper? That is cool, even if it is old news.

This blew my mind when I saw him being interviewed on CNN a while back, though.
posted by fixedgear at 1:42 AM on February 26, 2005


Funny you'd think instead of making up stories about Paul being Marilyn Manson

Quartermass didn't make that up. It's a popular urban legend.
posted by Bugbread at 3:53 AM on February 26, 2005


I thought Rob Stone from Mr. Belvedere was supposed to be Marylin Manson?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:29 AM on February 26, 2005


I went to high school with Young MC. We attended Hunter College High school in NYC, which is no slouch when it comes to the smarts (don't ask me how I got in there.)
posted by ltracey at 7:46 AM on February 26, 2005


Dolph Lundgren has a masters degree in chemical engineering and was awarded a scholarship to MIT.

Not just any scholarship- he was a Fulbright Scholar, which is pretty hardcore. My mind's pretty blown.

I'm amazed this hasn't been posted before.
posted by mkultra at 8:16 AM on February 26, 2005


This is, hands-down, the absolute best thread on the blue I have ever seen, and I weep at its beauty. Bacon-Erdos numbers? Oh man.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:59 AM on February 26, 2005


Hah! That explains her role on NCIS two weeks ago, when she played a computational scientist for the federal government. She must have had fun actually getting to play a role that encompassed her academic skill. She even got a little love thing going with one of the NCIS guys, until she was killed.
posted by delfuego at 9:17 AM on February 26, 2005


considering that both erdos and bacon numbers measure distance, wouldn't the proper formulation of the erdos-bacon number be the square root of the sum of the squares, rather than the sum of the two numbers? that would make it ((2^2)+(4^2))^(1/2) = 4.47213595

i suppose i should be asking danica about this.
posted by scottreynen at 9:34 AM on February 26, 2005


This blew my mind when I saw him being interviewed on CNN a while back, though.
posted by fixedgear at 1:42 AM PST on February 2


Good Lord.

"To most of the world, Skunk Baxter is one of the great rock and roll guitar players. Inside the Beltway, he's one of the leading experts on military defense, and we listen to his advice all the time," said Republican California congressman Dana Rohrabacher. "He knows all about weapons technology and has a better understanding of the strategic game going on than I do, and I'm on the International Relations Committe."

I'm speechless. Steely Dan will never be the same.

Uh.... then there's David Duchovny, who dropped out of his PhD program at Yale (English) to pursue modelling and acting.
posted by jokeefe at 9:45 AM on February 26, 2005


That girl who played Blossom went on to be a neuroscientist, the last I heard.
posted by availablelight at 9:54 AM on February 26, 2005


Too bad she wasn't featured in Bikini Calculus.
posted by Wet Spot at 9:59 AM on February 26, 2005


wouldn't the proper formulation of the erdos-bacon number be the square root of the sum of the squares, rather than the sum of the two numbers?

Only if the axes are orthogonal, ya big silly. If Bacon and Erdos numbers are correlated, they wouldn't be.

6 using the city-block metric should be a nice worst-case. We don't know what Danica's true Erdobacon number is, because we don't know what the correlation between Bacon and Erdos numbers is, but we can be sure it's no higher than 6.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:50 AM on February 26, 2005


considering that both erdos and bacon numbers measure distance, wouldn't the proper formulation of the erdos-bacon number be the square root of the sum of the squares, rather than the sum of the two numbers?

Well... the euclidean distance norm isn't the only possible one out there. Just adding individual distances is a perfectly useful norm, under many circumstances.
posted by weston at 10:57 AM on February 26, 2005


Um. On not having previewed, what ROU_Xenophobe said.
posted by weston at 10:59 AM on February 26, 2005


Only if the axes are orthogonal, ya big silly.

I love this place.

posted by mdn at 11:11 AM on February 26, 2005


This blew my mind when I saw him being interviewed on CNN a while back, though.

Ok, yeah...one of the Doobie Brothers working on missile defense systems is a bit brain-tweaking... :)

Winnie getting a math degree? It's almost type-casting, isn't it? ;)
posted by dejah420 at 11:29 AM on February 26, 2005


Someone should post the "So if your Erdos number is 4 and your Bacon number is 2, what's your Erdobacon number given that the two might be correlated, or might not?" question to her web page and see what she says.

After all, she probably has the most insight into whether or not they're correlated, and into how the two should be weighted.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2005


I thought the MetaRPG thread was bad, but this...this may take the cake.
posted by graventy at 1:11 PM on February 26, 2005


Skunk Baxter's a republican????
posted by ScaryShrink at 8:55 PM on February 26, 2005


So, now she's even further out of my league.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:33 PM on February 26, 2005


Skunk Baxter's a republican????

I'm not sure what his political affiliation is, if any.
posted by fixedgear at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2005


Skunk Baxter's a republican????

He's just takin' it to the street. The street being Pennsylvania Ave.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:32 AM on February 27, 2005


I'm more shocked by the fact that Ashton Kutcher majored in biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa.
posted by krunk at 2:45 PM on February 27, 2005


Dexter Holland, lead singer/guitarist for The Offspring, has a Ph.D. in molecular biology.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:47 AM on February 28, 2005


The co-founder / frontman of the punk band Bad Religion, Greg Graffin, has a Master's degree in Geology and a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology. According to the IMDB, he is "Said to be one of the five leading bone tissue paleontologists in the world."

Pretty impressive.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 12:52 PM on February 28, 2005


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