Tag Archives: mathematics

Odd poem: Integral limerick by Betsy Devine and/or Joel E. Cohen, perhaps

Which should be read as:

Integral z-squared dz
from 1 to the cube root of 3
times the cosine
of three pi over 9
equals log of the cube root of ‘e’.

Note that this limerick relies for its rhyme on the American pronunciation of “z” as “zee”. For the “z = zed” half of the world, you can substitute in another letter such as “t”. What it all means is beyond me… however much I had of this in school is long forgotten. I’m much happier with the Mathematical limerick in an earlier blog post.

This limerick appears in a book by Devine and Cohen, ‘Absolute Zero Gravity‘, but it is not clear that any of the poems, jokes and puzzles collected in it actually originate with the authors, as they are all “collected” but unattributed.

Odd poem: Mathematical limerick by Leigh Mercer

That may not look like a limerick to you, but if you read correctly it can be!

A dozen, a gross, and a score
Plus three times the square root of four
Divided by seven
Plus five times eleven
Is nine squared and not a bit more.

Leigh Mercer was a very odd character. Born the son of a Church of England pastor in 1893, he said “I have been taught to regard myself as the fool of the family, a professional ne’er-do-well.” From 1910 to 1959 he held between 60 and 85 different jobs: in the engineering shops of 30 motor car companies including Rolls-Royce and Ford, as a nurse to a wealthy invalid, as a Post Office Savings Bank clerk, a pavement artist, a carnival sideshow assistant, an English tutor in Paris…

He loved puzzles and wordplay, especially palindromes. He is best known for creating “A man, a plan, a canal – Panama.” There is an 8-page biography of him here, including 100 palindromes. Leigh Mercer died in 1977.