# Difference between revisions of "Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions"

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A: The one with the lowest µ.}} | A: The one with the lowest µ.}} | ||

− | + | This of course only works if you happen to know that µ is the symbol for the coefficient of friction. | |

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+ | Keen mathematicians will also spot a reference to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euler%27s_identity Euler's Identity], as well as a somewhat mangled version of Fermat's notorious quote about his [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermat%27s_Last_Theorem Last Theorem]: | ||

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+ | {{quote|I have discovered a truly marvellous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.}} | ||

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+ | Oh yes, ''[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamera Guantanamera]''. If you ever go to Cuba on holiday, you will hear this a ''lot''. Our coach party contained a lugubrious Yorkshireman, a man of few words but all of them pithy. One evening, we were relaxing after our dinner with a ''Mojito'' or two, and he suddenly said "Seventeen". When we asked him what he meant by this, he said, by way of explanation, "That's the seventeenth time I've heard that bloody song today." |

## Revision as of 15:05, 16 June 2014

### Inspiration

**Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions** was originally written for Round Four of the 2008 *Whittaker Prize*. The prompt used was the phrase *going down an angle so sharp it makes Pythagoras puke*. It was given a score of 78/100 by the judge, Rachel Green, putting it in fourth equal place out of 18. The judge felt it was *a lovely, convoluted murder story*, even if the future tense wobbled a bit.

### Performances

**Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions** was performed at *Liars' League* in London on September 9th, 2008, by Sabina Cameron.

### Notes

The title of this story is a tribute to Martin Gardner's eponymous book, which I devoured when I was a kid (I know, I should have got out more). At some point, however, it also developed into an exercise in trying to write an entire story in the future tense. In the end I decided that it was probably a bit more than the read could bear, and I added a present tense coda to bring it to a neat conclusion.

I was particularly proud of the name of the cat, µ. This was actually a reference to a well-known mathematical riddle:

Q: Two cats sitting on a sloping roof - which one falls off first?A: The one with the lowest µ.

This of course only works if you happen to know that µ is the symbol for the coefficient of friction.

Keen mathematicians will also spot a reference to Euler's Identity, as well as a somewhat mangled version of Fermat's notorious quote about his Last Theorem:

I have discovered a truly marvellous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

Oh yes, *Guantanamera*. If you ever go to Cuba on holiday, you will hear this a *lot*. Our coach party contained a lugubrious Yorkshireman, a man of few words but all of them pithy. One evening, we were relaxing after our dinner with a *Mojito* or two, and he suddenly said "Seventeen". When we asked him what he meant by this, he said, by way of explanation, "That's the seventeenth time I've heard that bloody song today."