This relationship can be utilized as a trick by writing 12345679 and asking a person to select his favorite digit. Mentally multiply the digit he selected by 9, then write the result under the number above. Then say that inasmuch as he is fond of that digit he shall have plenty of it. Multiply the two numbers together and the digit he selected will result. Thus suppose 4 was selected; multiply 12345679 by 36, resulting in 444444444.
— Albert Beiler, Recreations in the Theory of Numbers, 1964
Puzzle maven Nob Yoshigahara offered this puzzle in the September-October 2000 issue of MIT Technology Review, attributing it to a Professor Kotani. In the 4 × 4 complex of rooms above, two of the rooms are closed. This leaves a single way to tour the remaining rooms in a series of orthogonal moves, visiting each room once and returning to the starting point.
The 12 × 12 complex below has a similarly unique solution. What is it?
Carved into a hill in Dorset is the Cerne Abbas Giant, a 55-meter nude figure that carries a club and is rather obviously male. In November 1932 the Home Office received a letter from local resident Walter L. Long on which he’d sketched the giant. He wrote:
If this sketch offends, please remember that we have the same subject, representing a giant 27,000 times life size, facing the main road from Dorchester to Sherborne, and only some quarter to half a mile distant.
With the support of the Bishop of Salisbury, another Bishop, and representatives of other religions, I appealed to the National Trust, but this society exists only to preserve that which is entrusted to it, and consequently does not consider the obscenity of this figure is a matter on which I can act. In this figure’s counterpart in Sussex, Sex has been eliminated altogether; the other extreme.
Were the Cerne Giant converted into a simple nude, no exception would be taken to it. It is its impassioned obscenity that offends all who have the interest of the rising generation at heart, and I, we, appeal to you to make this figure conform to our Christian standards of civilization.
Archival records show that the matter was referred to one S.W. Harris, who debated what would satisfy Mr. Long. Should they call the police? Plant some strategic fig trees? He noted that the figure had stood without complaint for two or three thousand years, “or from 1/3 to one half the Biblical age of the Earth.” At last he sent this reply:
With reference to your letter of 14th November, I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that he has caused inquiry to be made and finds that the prehistoric figure of which you complain — the Giant of Cerne — is a national monument, scheduled as such, and vested in the National Trust. In the circumstances the Secretary of State regrets that he cannot see his way to take any action in the matter.
Seven years later Harris shared Long’s letter with a colleague, who wrote of the giant, “He is an old scandal, but he has stood there and scandalised for thousands of years and I hope [he] will do so for thousands more.”
(National Archives, In Their Own Words: Letters From History, 2016.)
n. a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal
adj. pertaining to both pleasure and pain
In the 1934 US Open Championship at Merion, Philadelphia, [Bobby Cruickshank] was leading after two rounds and going well in the third round. His approach to the 11th hole was slightly spared and to his dismay he saw the ball falling short into the brook which winds in front of the green.
The ball landed on a rock which was barely covered by water, rebounded high into the air and landed on the green. Cruickshank jubilantly tossed his club into the air, tipped his cap and shouted ‘Thank you, God.’ Further expressions of gratitude were cut short as the descending club landed on top of his head and knocked him out cold. He recovered his senses but not the impetus of his play and finished third.
— Peter Dobereiner, The Book of Golf Disasters, 1986
In order to protect new structures from harm, or to bring good luck, some European cultures used to conceal the bodies of cats on the premises, inside hollow walls, under floorboards, or in attics. The two shown here were discovered in the Stag Inn in Hastings, East Sussex, which was built in the 16th century. Sometimes the animals have been posed with prey, as here, but happily it appears that they weren’t walled in while still alive; in some cases they’ve been found in places that they couldn’t possibly have reached on their own.
The coincidence is rare because countries use differing conventions. February 2, 2020, is a palindrome whether expressed as day/month/year (02/02/2020), month/day/year (02/02/2020), or year/month/day (2020/02/02).
This happened last on November 11, 1111, and it won’t happen again until March 3, 3030.
02/01/2020 UPDATE: A number of readers have pointed out that 12/12/2121 works fine too, and it’s barely more than a century away.