Monday, November 15, 2010

Calculating the Speed of Mess

I have to believe that if Garth Sundem lived in Ann Arbor, he'd be a SK parent. This delicious bit of parenting nerdiness is from Garth's Geek Dad column at Wired Magazine.  Enjoy!


Calculating The Speed of Mess

Jonathan Liu's inspiration for this post

Equations relating speed and mass go back to Newton and beyond. But after I got geeky with an equation for Halloween candy, Geek Dads Jonathan Liu and John Booth hit me with an intriguing question: what about relating speed and MESS? Simply, how fast should you expect a clean kids’ room to get messy?

Said GD’s did the better part of the brainstorming and I did the factor slapping, to produce the collaborative equation below. Plug in your family’s numbers to discover how many square feet per hour your kid’s room will accumulate non-traversable junk. For the ├╝ber geeks out there, keep reading below the equation for more mathematical sweetness you can do with the Speed of Mess.

Here, for your practical use and cerebral edification is the mathematically certain (wink, wink) Speed of Mess:


•  K#= The number of kids playing in the room
•  KA= The average age of K#
•  KB1= Is one of K# a boy between ages 6 and 13? Enter 1 for yes and 0 for no.
•  KB2= Enter age of boy between 6 and 13. These are the planet’s messiest beasts.
•  F= Fodder: Generally, how much junk (toys, clothes, books, reptiles, etc.) does your child’s room contain? 1-10 with 10 being Lloyd from the show Hoarders
•  N= In days, the newness of any single game, toy, or book
•  PE= Parental energy: 1-10 with 1 being “new baby” and 10 being “methamphetamines”
•  PS= Parental strictness: 1-10 with 10 being Sir, yes sir! and 1 being Duuuude!
•  T= In Fahrenheit, the temperature outdoors (add 25 “degrees” for sleddable snow)
•  S= Storage: 1-10 with 10 being wire bins to the ceilings and ample closet space and 1 being bare, padded room (though let me also point out the usefulness of the latter)
•  C= Percentage of occupied time in which K are using a computer, TV, game console or other screen-based entertainment

SOM is the square feet per hour that your kids’ room will collect mess that precludes passage. Max for three, 10-year-old boys with no storage, lax, exhausted parents and lots o’ stuff is 85.33 ft^2/hr and min for one, 17-year-old with strict, energetic parents, with little stuff and ample storage (on a nice day, etc.) is 0.21 ft^2/hr.

Further mathematical sweetness:
Notice that the speed of mess is like a velocity. By calculating “velocities” for each hour in a single day and summing these velocities, you could discover how many square feet of junk accumulates per day (those willing to get down with calc could do it more accurately). Then, using the total area of the room and the percentage coverage at which point you go batty, you could calculate how often you need to instigate a massive cleaning effort (MCE). There’s lotsa other cool stuff you could do with SOM—any suggestions?