Friday, 8 January 2010

Brocard's Number

Thank you to the kind friends who won't let me forget my birthday! Needless to say I reached for the Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers and discovered that 71 is the largest known solution to Brocard''s pr0blem: 71 squared is 7!+1 (the exclamation mark in 7! means 7x6x5x4x3x2x1). Also 71 cubed is 357911 - the first five odd numbers in sequence (not counting 1 as odd). 71 is the atomic number of lutetium, so at last I am out of the lanthanides!

Apart from that I don't get any kick out of having completed 71 journeys round the sun. This is not my favourite angle from which to look at the sun; April and May offer very pleasant views, and there is a lot to be said for September and October. What is amusing though is that in the past year I have met my exact twin, born on the same day of the same year - and we both love the poetry of Arthur Clough!!!

Speaking of Clough, on 3rd February an English Heritage blue plaque is being unveiled on the house he lived in from 1854 to 59 - 11 St Mark's Crescent, London NW1. Ironically, he wrote no poetry while he lived there, but that is very appropriate for this most paradoxical of poets. I am giving a talk at a seminar afterwards, and I shall try to explain his eight-year silence - something to do with his marriage, I think.

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