Moonlighting agony uncle Professor Dirichlet answers your personal problems. Want the prof’s help? Send your problems to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not much of a football fan but I enjoyed the Euros over the summer. I’d like to learn a bit more about the sport and maybe support a club or two. Any suggestions?
— Steve Orgizovic, Unknown, possibly kidnapped
I once attended an Imaginary Madrid game, although Ventry City and Coventry City are good and cogood (respectively). Of course, much of the fun is in the quality punditry: I often spend my Saturday evenings watching Gary Linear but if the scores are exponential, I switch over to ln(Shear-er) on Logglebox.
My baby son Norman recently turned two. At the exact anniversary of his birth, our house suddenly changed from a square into a circle. What’s going on?
— Joan, Norfolk
I think I can explain this: I think you’ve switched from a l-Norm to a 2-Norm. Be warned that further expansion of your house may happen on little Norm’s future birthdays. But the shape of your house will remain bounded by the larger square made by the infinite norm, so thankfully no part of it will be going where Norman has gone before.
Do you watch a lot of telly? I’m trying to come up with some reality TV pitches for the BBC but so far only have: jousting with outdoor brooms (Rake Off), learner drivers pulling away from traffic lights (Brake Off), and livestreams of Heathrow runway 09L (Take Off). Help.
— Square eyes, Salford
How about… members of the public appear on stage and try to draw straight lines next to circles: Britain’s Got Tangent! Or celebs pair up with professionals to hold hands and make arm waves: Strictly Cos Dancing! Athletes running into an arena with Ulrika Jonsson and pointing in the direction the temperature increases the most: Gradiators! If none of that sticks, you could try generalising The Circle to n dimensions.
Thank you for your advice last issue on helping me find actors for my play. Alas, the September cabinet reshuffle rendered your advice useless and the whole project was a disaster. But no fear, I have a new muse. It’s a musical! It crosses urban, hip-hop, R&B sounds with traditional show tunes while telling a story about an 18th century statesman. I’ve managed to arrange dates playing just opposite the illustrious Dominion Theatre. How can I guarantee its success?
— Kimberly Donglesworth, Newcastle
Take your actors’ kinetic energy, T; add the play’s potential, V, and consider H = T + V. You must ensure H is conserved over time! If so, you can be sure your production is… Hamiltonian!
I was playing a game of cricket against Trescothick, the former England batsman, who claimed he could tell how I was going to bowl based entirely on my previous delivery. Also the pitch was around 20 metres longer than usual. What’s his secret?
— Rob Eastaway, Test Match Special studio
Alas, you were playing on a Marcus chain (but not furlong!)
I’m looking after my sister’s spaniel for a fortnight. As a little surprise, I’m thinking of renaming it. Got any good dog names?
— Peggy, Mourne Mountains
Rho-ver. Dogarithm. Xorgi. Barctangent. Scooby Doodecahedron.
Heed Professor Dirichlet’s previous advice:
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