Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Pascal's Triangle Proves Pleasing to Eye and Mind

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Pascal's Triangle Proves Pleasing to Eye and Mind

Article excerpt

IT is just one week since I admitted that I often have no idea where a particular column might end. I've got a feeling it's about to happen again this week.

I've owned up before to being a cryptic crossword fan and therefore inevitably given to playing around with anagrams. "Smart State", being really just a mixture of "tarts" and "mates", is the way my mind sometimes works.

The nightly bedtime tussle with the Times Crossword has, in those more fertile earlier years, proved to be the thinking man's contraceptive as well as a nice challenge before the eyes close.

Nine Across in a recent puzzle, "Mathematical formula working out mobile home grant one's given for good", was full of traps for the less experienced player. It took the usual combined effort with the lady of the house, temporarily diverted from her other nightly Sudoku obsession, to recognise an anagram and its solution.

Without getting all unnecessary, but remembering that cryptic convention often suggests that 'good' is 'g' , 'one' is 'i' and 'working out' rings anagram bells, the solution was (obviously) an anagram of "mobile home grant" (with the 'g' replaced by an 'i').

You are following me, I hope.

Anyway, the solution was "binomial theorem", a mathematical formula despite my wife's refusal to admit it, based on her significantly deficient mathematics education.

Now this is where a change of column direction is about to occur.

Bolstered by a partly remembered confrontation with the theorem during my undergraduate career, but unable to formulate an immediate answer to my wife's "What the hell is that when it's at home?", I did a bit of revision next day.

Now I'm pretty sure you or she don't give a tinker's cuss what it is, but let me just say that it is a very beautiful thing! It enables some of us to "expand" quantities of the form (x + y) raised to the power n where x and y are two so-called "variables" and n can be as big a whole number as you like. …

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