Rich Simons  11th Street
Q: What is your favorite way of relaxing? – b.a.
Certainly, after a long, hard day of solving all the world’s problems, I need to “unwind.” What I like best is to curl up in front of the old fireplace with a glass of chardonnay in my hand and something from one of my favorite authors, Allan Gottlieb – editor of the Puzzle Corner in MIT’s magazine Technology Review. His works are a constant source of comfort, as I think you will discover in the following excerpt:
“A medallion hangs from a 30centimeter (weightless, frictionless, etc.) string that is attached asymmetrically to the wall, one end at (x,y) = (0,0), the other end at (15,12) (coordinates are in centimeters). With the medallion at its equilibrium position, the string will form a lopsided V. Find the (x,y) coordinates of the point on the string from which the medallion hangs.“
In his more lyrical passages, his prose glides along like a series of high, puffy clouds:
“Suppose there are four dice: Blue, Green, Red, and White. These dice have different numbers than usual printed on their six faces. After observing a long sequence of experiments rolling pairs of these dice, you conclude the following:
 When both are rolled simultaneously, the blue die gives a higher number than the green die twothirds of the time.
 When both are rolled simultaneously, the green die gives a higher number than the red die twothirds of the time.
 When both are rolled simultaneously, the red die gives a higher number than the white die twothirds of the time.
You are now asked to consider rolling the blue and white dice simultaneously. What can you conclude about the probability that the blue die will produce a higher value than the white one?”
But just when you have relaxed and think you know where his narrative is going, Gottlieb will challenge you to decipher his true intent:
“What size cube has the same number of square inches in its surface area as it has cubic inches in its volume? What about spheres?”
And send you on a search for even deeper meanings:
“How many integers from 1 to 100 can you form using the digits 2,0,1, and 3 exactly once each.; the operators +,,x (multiplication), and / (division); and exponentiation? We seek solutions containing the minimum number of operators; among solutions having a given number of operators, those using the digits in the order 2,0,1,3 are preferred. Parentheses may be used; they do not count as operators. A leading minus sign, however, does count as an operator.”
So if it is a long evening of relaxation you are after, I can definitely recommend a roaring fire, a wine of your choice, and Gottlieb. You will be asleep in no time.
