## Archive for September 27, 2010

### Rhyme Time

My friend Josh Zucker created a joke about math and poetry:

Why don’t 8 and 15 make good poets?

Because they only relatively rhyme.

Painful, I know. Hopefully the following poems will ease the hurt.

The first poem yields a system of equations in two variables. I can tell you that using algebra is not so easy, but I was able to find the solution in about four minutes with an Excel spreadsheet.

Take five times which plus half of what,

And make the square of what you’ve got.

Divide by one-and-thirty square,

To get just four — that’s right, it’s there.

Now two more points I must impress:

Both which and what are fractionless,

And what less which is not a lot:

Just two or three. So now, what’s what?

The following poem by Leo Moser poked fun at Paul Erdös’ tendency to publish important proofs in obscure journals.

A conjecture both deep and profound

Is whether a circle is round.

In a paper of Erdös,

Written in Kurdish,

A counterexample is found.

And one of my favorites from Shel Silverstein:

My dad gave me one dollar bill,

‘Cause I’m his smartest son.

And I swapped it for two shiny quarters,

‘Cause two is more than one!And then I took the quarters

and traded them to Lou

For three dimes — I guess he doesn’t know

That three is more than two!Just then, along came old blind Bates,

And just ’cause he can’t see,

He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,

And four is more than three!And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs

Down at the seed-feed store.

And the fool gave me five pennies for them,

And five is more than four!And then I went and showed my dad,

And he got red in the cheek.

He closed his eyes and shook his head —

Too proud of me to speak!