Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Nuclear Age Begins

March 1...    It was on March 1st in 1896 that  Henri Becquerel (that's not him at the top) discovered radioactivity, at least according to Wikipedia.   I imagine if he had looked ahead fifty years he might have kept his discovery a secret.  By a strange twist of fate, it was also on March 1st in 1950 that the US convicted  Klaus Fuchs for spying for the Soviet Union and disclosing top secret information about the atomic bomb.
Then, only four years later, on March 1st of 1954, we detonate the Castle Bravo, a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean .  The result was the worst radioactive contamination ever caused by the United States.   

Okay, not the kind of thing you want to think about?  How about diverting your mind with a quick problem.   Can you solve ...

 x^2 - 2y^2=1 \,  
Just find the first two solutions.  After all, March 1st isn't only about nuclear power; it is also John Pell's birthday.  (Yeah, that's him up top.) He would be 400 today... and the first kid who says, "Almost as old as YOU, Mr. Ballew", will be seriously harmed... don't go there.

Oops, almost forgot. It's World Math Day also...
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