The Sciences

Mathematical Poems

Cosmic VarianceBy cjohnsonAug 25, 2005 1:18 AM


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In the comment stream of The Greatest Physics Textbook!, a couple of mathematics poems broke out (as they are wont to do). The two examples (limerick form) were so attractive to me that I thought I'd share them with you. Also I'd rather like to hear more. I'll give you the two examples, and feel free to compose and add your own, or submit ones you've encountered elsewhere. They don't have to be limerick form. Some other standard form would be great to see too. Here they are: Torbjorn Larsson told us about this poem (which was attributed to John Saxon):

((12 + 144 + 20 + (3 * 4^(1/2))) / 7) + (5 * 11) = 9^2 + 0

Now isn't that clever? No? Oh, I's a translation:

"A Dozen, a Gross and a Score, plus three times the square root of four, divided by seven, plus five times eleven, equals nine squared and not a bit more."

Then Astronomy Grad Student (who knew parents could be so cruel in choosing names?) submitted the following (I took the liberty of correcting the mathematics a touch):

int_(1)^(3^(1/3)) z^2 dz cos(3pi/9) = ln e^(1/3)

which reads as:

"The integral of z squared dz from 1 to the cube root of 3 times the cosine of 3 pi over 9 equals log of the cube root of e"

(Note: Readers outside the US, this works better if you allow yourself the agony of pronouncing the letter "z" as "zee".) More please! [Update: Our second contributor (with the interesting name) said that they got the poem from this page. There, I learned that the first poem is apparently attributable to Leigh Mercer.] -cvj

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