# Forward and Back

In 1996, Will Shortz invited the listeners of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday to submit word-level palindromes — sentences that remain unchanged when their words are read in reverse order, such as “King, are you glad you are king?” Runners-up:

• Fall leaves after leaves fall.
• Will my love love my will?
• Herb the sage eats sage the herb.
• “Rock of Ages” preceded ages of “rock.”
• Escher, drawing hands, drew hands drawing Escher.
• In order to stop hunger, stop to order in.
• Blessed are they that believe that they are blessed.
• Parents love to have children; children have to love parents.
• Says Mom, “What do you do?” You do what Mom says.
• Family first sees Holy Father secretly father holy see’s first family.
• You know, I did little for you, for little did I know you.
• Did I say you never say “Never say never”? You say I did.
• Good little student does plan future, but future plan does student little good.
• Better doctors like people treated well because well-treated people like doctors better.
• Celebrate! Why not? If happy birthday’s your hope, I hope your birthday’s happy! If not, why celebrate?
• Pain increase to aching back strikes, and sufferer finds no doctor. Doctor No finds sufferer and strikes back, aching to increase pain.

The grand prize winner, by Peter L. Stein of San Francisco, was “First Ladies rule the state, and state the rule — ‘Ladies first!'”

(Will Shortz, “New Word Palindromes,” Word Ways 30:1 [February 1997], 11-12.)

# An Even Dozen

The surface of a standard soccer ball is covered with 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons. Interestingly, while we might vary the number of hexagons, the number of pentagons must always be 12.

That’s because the Euler characteristic of a sphere is 2, so VE + F = 2, where V is the number of vertices, or corners, E is the number of edges, and F is the number of faces. If P is the number of pentagons and H is the number of hexagons, then the total number of faces is F = P + H; the total number of vertices is V = (5P + 6H) / 3 (we divide by 3 because three faces meet at each vertex); and the total number of edges is E = (5P + 6H) / 2 (dividing by 2 because two faces meet at each edge). Putting those together gives

$\displaystyle V-E+F={\frac {5P+6H}{3}}-{\frac {5P+6H}{2}}+P+H={\frac {P}{6}},$

and since the Euler characteristic is 2, this means P must always be 12.

# Specimen

In the 1960s, the Great Apes house at the Bronx Zoo featured an exhibit titled “The Most Dangerous Animal in the World.”

The enclosure contained a mirror.

# For the Record

The 1983 Guinness Book of World Records found the “Longest Sentence in Literature” in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, of all places. It’s in Chapter 6:

It’s 1,288 words altogether and, strictly speaking, not a complete sentence.

# Noted

Marvelously, the Bolognese have a dedicated word to describe retired men who pass their time watching construction sites: umarells. (Wikipedia says they stand “stereotypically with hands clasped behind their back and offering unwanted advice.”)

The word was first offered with this meaning by writer Danilo Masotti in 2005, but increasingly it’s being used in other parts of Italy. Within Bologna, it was honored in 2017 with a public square dubbed Piazzetta degli Umarells — which, ironically, was under construction at the time.

Related: A gongoozler is someone who enjoys watching activity on the canals of the United Kingdom. Presumably these two groups intersect.

# Thinking Big

In 1796 English architect Willey Reveley proposed to straighten the Thames between Wapping and Woolwich Reach, arguing that the measure would reduce the river’s length, simplify navigation, and improve its flow, reducing pollution.

Parliament considered the plan but never implemented it. “Revely had rather an awkward way of letting loose his real opinions; and he habituated himself to a sarcastic mode of delivering them,” read his obituary. “It need not be added, that such qualities were not calculated to render him popular.”

# Math Notes

If you arrange the first 12 primes into exponentiated summands, you get a prime number:

23 + 57 + 1113 + 1719 + 2329 + 3137 = 15148954872646850196557152427604893685308877022260348791 is prime.

(From Fermat’s Library.)

# Two in One

The “Loop” golf course at Michigan’s Forest Dunes Golf Club is reversible: Each of the 18 greens can be approached from either of two directions, so players can play the course clockwise on one day and counterclockwise the next.

There are no defined tee boxes, of the kind that modern golfers are accustomed to, because what serves as a tee area one day may be fairway when playing the opposite direction the next day.”

“Our biggest fear is that people like one course a lot more than the other course,” designer Tom Doak told Golf Advisor. “I’m very happy with what we’ve done. There are a few of the best holes on both courses. I think people will enjoy both of them, and that was a hard thing to do.”

# The Moses Bridge

Visitors to the Fort de Roovere in the Netherlands cross a moat using a sunken bridge designed by Ro & AD Architects.

To sustain the effect, the stairways on either bank are also sunk into the earth, so that the whole passage is invisible from a distance.

# Local Fauna

French street artist Braga Last One used spray paint to transform a gas tank outside Marseilles into a Sphynx cat.

The piece must be viewed from a certain perspective, but it blends into the landscape to make the illusion more compelling.

See more of the artist’s work at My Modern Met.