# Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions

### 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.)