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Baseball and the first unique prime number: 3

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As the baseball postseason swings ever closer to the World Series (fyi: the Fall Classic begins this coming Saturday), I thought I'd get us all in the mood by looking at some curious connections between the sport and, of all things, the number 3, which, besides being the first unique prime number, turns out really is a magic number, as well. (You should be singing the SchoolHouse Rock song now...)

I haven't read this elsewhere, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noted the following curious correlations between the two (so by all means, if you have more to add, please do so in the comments below):

3 is the number of strikes needed to record an out.

3 is the number of outs to end an inning.

3 x 3 is the number of innings in a game.

3 is the number of bases on the playing field.

3 is the number in the batting order generally occupied by the team's best hitter.

One of, if not the, most useful of all baseball stats is a player's batting average. The benchmark has always been .300. In fact, Mickey Mantle was often quoted as saying one of his greatest regrets was not retiring while he still had a .300 lifetime average. Yes, there's a sizeable difference between .298 and .300.

To win a division series in the postseason, a team must win 3 of 5 games.

A baseball diamond is actually a 3 x 30-foot square.

There are 3 X 30 feet between each of the 3 bases.

Though the distance from home plate to left and right field varies, it is always some variation on 300 feet. (e.g. Fenway is 310 to left and 302 to right, Wrigley is 355 to left and 353 to right).

That's all I've got for now, though I'm sure there are more. Oh, wait, I almost forgot a biggy: Guess what number Babe Ruth, the most famous (and arguably best) player in the game, wore on his uniform?

I'll give ya 3 guesses"¦


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Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]


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