I recently became a father, and that experience has lead to me to wonder what my son will be like when he his older. It’s also lead me remember what I was like when I was younger. I usually didn’t take things my teachers said seriously, this has lead to good things and bad.

For the bad, I didn’t try hard in math in high school, my SAT Math scores were terrible, way below average. As a result, I had to take Math 095 (Intermediate Algebra) in college, which didn’t even count for credit. It wasn’t until the end of my freshmen year that I took calculus. After that first year I was hooked, and learned the joy of mathematics, I also realized that a lot of things I liked were enriched by learning some math. Rubiks Cubes, Computers, networks, 4-dimensional spaces, money, etc. However, even though I got really into math and eventually got a degree in it after 5 years, I did a great disservice to my (then) future self by ignoring math and my teachers.

As for the good, I remember arguing with my High School literature teacher about media, he was claiming that books were better than movies because they allow the reader to imagine the characters and settings in their own personal way. They also go much deeper into character development, something that is hard to match with a 90 minute movie. Even though I agree with these advantages, I wanted to be a contrarian and disagree with the teacher. I even came up with an argument as to why:

Since ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, we can establish that:

Then, since movies play at 24fps (frames per second), that means that for every second of movie, there are 24 pictures, or 24,000 words. Also, movies average about 90 minutes, so that means that 1 movie = (24,000*90 words) = 2,160,000 words.

Next, I looked at the books he was assigning us: Of Mice and Men (46,750 words), The Bean Trees (58,000 words), Black Like Me (48,000 words), these books have an average of 50,916 words so we can calculate exactly how much better a movie is than these books:

Therefore, 1 movie ≈ 42 books. I had fun abusing proverbs to prove a point, and the teacher was amused, recognizing the humor.

I would like to help my son avoid some of the same mistakes I made and work hard where and when it matters. What’s ironic is that I worked hard on a pseudo-mathematical proof that movies are better than books, but I completely blew off my algebra homework.