Puzzles, Koans and Amusements

Prof. M. Victor Wickerhauser


Matthias Beck's Mathematical Quotes web page at San Francisco State University.


Mars 2003 Aug 27, St Louis, MVW

Mars at the 2003 opposition in an afocal KODAK DX3215 image at 200x by MVW through a Meade 10" F/10 LX200 SCT, taken 27 August 2003 around 0600 UTC in St. Louis.


at its closest
in 60,000 years.

Mars 20030827.0600UTC, S&T

Map from Sky & Telescope's Mars Profiler showing the albedo features facing Earth at the time of the photo, mirror-reversed as in the photo, with "X" marking the facing spot.

Parts: a two-player game with a simple strategy.

Player 1 chooses N>0 and draws a circle with N tick-marks, or darts, pointing inside. Player 2 makes the initial move, connecting the tips of two darts inside the circle with a curve, and then adding a double dart to the curve. Player 1 then moves, connecting the tips of any two unused darts. Curves must stay within the circle, and must not cross. A dart tip can be used only once. The players alternate until there are no more moves. The last player to move wins.

For example, here are the first moves of a game with 8 initial darts:
First moves in a game of Parts

Parts is an introduction to parity and proof by strong induction. The rules, examples, variations, and an analysis of the winning strategy may be found in the write-up The game of Parts, a Math Circles presentation, 23 January 2002.

Fox Trot puzzle: PARTS hint
(Cartoon: FOX TROT by Bill Amend, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 27 June 2002)

What thoughts would he have, looking at a soccer ball?
Fox Trot puzzle: soccer ball thoughts?
(Cartoon: FOX TROT by Bill Amend, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 30 July 2000)

What is the word?
Fox Trot puzzle: what's the word?
(Cartoon: FOX TROT by Bill Amend, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 31 August 1999)

Questions? Return to M. Victor Wickerhauser's home page for contact information.