Saturday, September 6, 2003
M I N D  G A M E S

The perfect square cut
Aditya Rishi

ITíS time for the annual awards in heaven and there are two nominees in the Lifetime Achievement in Sport category: Sir Donald Bradman, whom we all know, and Leonhard Euler, whom we all... donít know. There has obviously been a mistake in drafting the list of nominees, but it is now too late for any correction because the list has already been signed by God.

God calls upon Saint Peter and Chitragupta to present the award, but there is such a loud appeal from cricketers in the audience that He has to first ask them: "Whatís you objection?" "Euler does not deserve to be here," say cricketers. God: "I will not permit sledging in Eden Garden." Cricketers: "Nevertheless, we want Euler out." God: "Euler will not go out on his own; you will have to get him out." Cricketers: "Weíll get him out first ball."

Since all cricketers are with Sir Don, Saint Peter and Chitragupta come out to open for Euler. Cricketers welcome them with this short-pitched delivery: "Why did you include Euler in the nominees for this award?" Saint Peter and Chitragupta do not duck the question. "Why do you all think we selected Sir Don?" say the openers. Cricketers: "He has been man of the series a number of times." Saint Peter and Chitragupta: "Euler has always been called man of the series, and in his case, the series are infinite."


"Sir Don has been averaging close to 100, his output is astounding." "After his death in 1783, the St Petersburg Academy continued to publish Eulerís unpublished work for nearly 50 more years. Eulerís work in mathematics is so vast that heavens can only give a superficial account of it. He was the most prolific writer of mathematics of all time, who produced almost half his total work despite the total blindness. His 866 books and articles represent about one third of the entire body of research on mathematics, theoretical physics, and engineering mechanics published between 1726 and 1800." "Sir Don is the cricket king," "Those to whom heaven has given noble minds are the equivalent of kings."

"Sir Don can find gaps in any field." "So can Euler." Heavens take the lead. When Euler comes out to bowl, Sir Don decides to play with the blind man and takes guard way outside the leg stump. "You are blind," he calls out to Euler. "Yes, I will have less distraction," says Euler and nearly dismisses Don on the very first ball. Don starts desperately looking for something. Euler gives him a paper. "Whatís this?" says Don. "Your form, you were looking for it." Don finds that Euler has listed numbers 18530, 65570 and 45986 in the form and asked him to find the fourth number that will complete his set so that any two added together form a perfect square. This googly ends his innings and Euler is once again man of the series. (Find the missing number; write at The Tribune or adityarishi99