## Wednesday, September 19, 2007

### Chemistree fore Eediots!

Hello, and welcome to Chemistree fore Eediots! Our first installment is on significant vs. insignificant figures. And by a significant figure, we don't mean this: No, by significant and insignificant figures, we are referring to the figures in measured numbers that count for something, like this:

Confused? Let's try a simple similie analogy hominy:

Say you're having an orgy.

Oh, where do I begin?

Imagine that each mammal person is a number, except zero, which would mean no person is there, like so:

To have a good orgy, you want everything arranged so that everyone is having a good time. To do this, you want everyone to be sexually engaged with at least one other person at the party. Then, each person will be having a significant relationship, and thus will count as an significant figure.

"But," you may interject, "doesn't Chemisteree have fancy things like decimals involved?" Indeed, it does. So, let's imagine your orgy is taking place in Tijuana. Therefore, the decimal point shall be represented by a donkey.

Thus, we may also include people on either side of the donkey as significant, and picture a number with decimals like so:

So, from looking at these figures, we can determine the rule that All non-zero numbers in a measured number are significant.

Unfortunately, as we all know, Chemissterry can get even more complicated than that. Yes, numbers in Chemisorry Chem include zeros. So, how are we to handle these in our hominorgy? Well, let's imagine they are empty spaces where no one is. This leads us to the next rule: "Sandwiched" zeros occur between nonzero numbers and are significant.

See, for example, this doohickey here:

As you can see, we count each person as significant, on either side of the donkey. We also count the empty spot in the middle as significant, too, as it is in-between the first significant person and the second... or, in this case, the donkey, and thus is a sandwich. Well, it's not actually a sandwich, or we'd have to search Google for images of a sandwich. What we mean is, a space between people, or other mammals, is okay for our purposes. It's probably just because one person needs a little space right now, or is a voyeur.

Um, okay. So next we have another another kind of zeros. These are the kind of zeros that appear at the end of numbers, and are called "trailing zeros." Our rules about trailing zeros are: Trailing zeros follow non-zero numbers in numbers without decimal points, are usually place holders, and are not significant.

Meaning, no matter how many people you have in your orgy, or spaces between them, they are all significant. But, as you'd expect, the space between the last person and the wall or door is not significant, because that's the end of the f***-chain.

fig. sex

Similarly, Leading zeros precede non-zero digits in a decimal number and are not significant.

So, as you will see in fig. 7, like trailing zero empty spaces, leading zero empty spaces are kind of the space between the f***-chain and the other wall, and don't count, despite the donkey, who is off practicing his lines for A Midsummer Night's Dream, or something.

Finally, you may well ask, "but aren't there more complicated numbers in Colostomystery? Like, this thing I've heard of, 'scientific notation'?" Well, yes, but it's really not that complicated at all, as our last figure will illustrate.

As you can see, the multiplication symbol acts as a rift in the space-time continuum, turning the spaces between the people (and donkeys) into trailing zeros by eating the sandwiches. In addition, the midgets or children or whatever at the top right don't count, because they have no legal standing in Tijuana.

We hope you enjoyed this installment of Chem 4 Idjitiots. Tune in next week for Intro to Vet Tech for Total Morons!

Flip X said...

I am officially in love.

xkcd, you gots competition.

tater said...

I still don't understand nothin, but I likes the purty piktures. Thank you fir a drawin em fer me.

Rimshot said...

Apparently, I am an Eediot, because that made perfect sense to me.

Maybe mom was right and I should have been a pharmacist or something other than the vagrant that I've become

Heather said...

Hmmm, I don't recall Miss N. having anything to do with orgies during chem back in the halcyon days of our shared high school experience... other than what may've been going on with her coworker and eventual hubby, Mr. D... but then, to be an orgy, we'd need at least a coupla other science teachers involved, so we'll throw Mr. C. and Doc R. into the mix.

Or perhaps not. Even the thought of that is making my stomach hurt, kinda like chem did waaay back in the 80s. (Which is why I became an English major in college - no more science or math!)

Good luck with all that high-falutin' science stuff!

First Nations said...

now see, if they'd explained it like that back in school i might have...well, i can't think of how to end that thought because i wouldn't have given a hoot in hell anyway. but still.

i will be linking this, btw.
just as soon as i stop laughing and wipe up the spit.

claire said...

wow. that's fantastic.

re: the donkey? is that all he does? like, just stand there and hold the place mark?
cause then those movies lie.
just sayin.

TigerYogi said...

You lost me at Divine in the faaabulous red dress! ;)

mrpeenee said...

Thank you so much for explaining this. Whatever it was.

m00nchild said...

I now have a blueprint for world domination. Cheers

Corn Dog said...

This was breelant, You shud post this on the interweb some whar.

Anonymous said...

oh. I get it. Thanx for letting me know.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

oh sweet mercy. i wish i'd had this handy guide when i was taking chemistry in college!