An ACT Debuting Mathematical Constant Proffered for the Education and Edification of the State of Michigan Gratis and Without any Royalties Whatsoever Upon Its Acceptance and Adoption by the Legislature of the Same.

1. WHEREAS Mathematical Amateur Monthy has praised the method employed by J. Dewing Woodard for trisecting the angle as “unique.”*

2. WHEREAS the Michigan Society of First-Grade Mathematics Teachers has noted that J. Dewing Woodard’s method of doubling the cube is “peerless.”**

3. And WHEREAS the Lansing Compass Club has, upon testing J. Dewing Woodard’s innovation for squaring the circle, declared it “like nothing we have ever seen.”***

4. BE IT ENACTED on this twenty-sixth of November, 1915, that the Legistlature of the State of Michigan in Congress Assembled does hereby APPROVE and ADOPT J. Dewing Woodard methods.

5. And BE IT ENACTED that, henceforth, they shall be applied to the financial and pension management plan(s) of this State’s greatest settlement, the City of Detroit, in perpetuity that their genius and foresight may be as evident in a hundred years hence as they are today.

Inspired by the song ‘3.14159265’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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(plural nerkles)


(Brit) enPR: nûkl, IPA: /nɜːkl/
(US) enPR: nûrkl, IPA: /nɝːkl/

Definition (Noun)

1. A person who is intellectual but generally introverted but who lacks mathematical ability or dislikes mathematics (informal, sometimes derogatory).

A lot of my friends like Dungeons and Dragons but I’m too much of a nerkle to get the hang of all the numbers.

2. One who has an intense, obsessive interest in something stereotypically nerdy (cf. nerd) but is handicapped by their inability or unwillingness to engage in mathematics (slang, always derogatory).

We don’t want Steven on our Math Bowl team because he’s a nerkle and will just drag us down.

3. An unattractive, socially awkward, annoying, undesirable, and/or boring, person who is also unintelligent or unskilled (slang, always derogatory).

Cecelia is such a nerkle, she is really weird and can’t even help me with my calculus homework.

Definition (Verb)

1. An intelligent person failing at a task others thought them capable of (informal, sometimes derogatory).

Give me those calculations, you’re just nerkling it up!

2. Engaging in stereotypically nerdy activity (cf. nerd) which does not involve heavy use of mathematics (informal, sometimes derogatory).

We’re going to get together and nerkle by writing some stories and reading comic books.

3. The act of performing mathematical calculations in a stereotypically nerdy context (cf. nerd) on behalf of one incapable or unwilling of performing them (informal, sometimes derogatory).

I like playing Dungeons and Dragons on the computer because it will nerkle the math for me.


Unknown. Attested since 1951 as US student slang. The word, capitalized, appeared in 1950 in Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Zoo as the name of an imaginary animal: “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Katroo / And bring back an It-Kutch, a Preep and a Proo, / A Nerkle, a Nerd and a Seersucker too!” Various unlikely folk etymologies and less likely backronymic speculations also exist. Popularized by frequent use in the American situational comedy television show Uneasy Weeks (1967-1978); the 1940s setting of that program may have contributed to a widespread perception of the word being in common use before 1950 which is unattested in the literature.


(socially unaccepted person, all are slang, informal, and sometimes derogatory): doofus, dork, dweeb, geek, goober, loser, twerp
(poor mathematics skills): innumerate, innumeracy

This entry incorporates some text from Wiktionary and as such this entry is licensed under the same Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported GNU Free Documentation licenses. This license and attribution does not in any way suggest that the original authors and/or editors endorse this entry or its use of the work.

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“It’s homework,” Aileen said, snatching the paper back. “We’re supposed to take a crack at Loussac’s Number.”

Gale cocked a pierced eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean? Have pity on your poor art major roommate, Ail.”

“Pierre Loussac,” Aileen huffed, “was one of the great mathematical minds of the last century. When they found him dead at his desk in 1987, he was holding a piece of paper that said ‘28,114.’”

“Good for him,” said Gale. “So your assignment is to do the same and die with that number in your hand?”

“That number is one of the great unsolved mysteries in mathematics,” Aileen said. “It’s not prime, it’s not one of a hundred other kinds of special numbers that make art majors’ heads pop like overripe grapes. My assignment it to come up with a reason behind Loussac’s Number.”

“Good to see they’ve got their standards nice and high.”

“I’ll fail. So will everybody else. And that’s exactly the point.”

Stjepan Pečenić, originally from the city of Split in Dalmatia, came to Southern Michigan University in 1981 to teach mathematics. Dr. Pečenić claimed that the Yugoslav government had been persecuting him for his political beliefs; that argument got him asylum, but word had it that was just a glossy cover story. Dr. Cvijić in Engineering was particularly outspoken in her claim (inherited from her father) that Pečenić had been forced to flee after the death of his patron, Tito, and that he’s been a loyal party man until power struggles had forced him out.

In the mathematics department and among his students, Pečenić was known as the “Ragin’ Croatian” for his heavily accented outbursts in which he would rail semi-intelligibly against everything from the laziness of his students to the lack of creativity in his peers to the administration’s short-sighted reluctance to raise his salary. Most students hoped they didn’t get him, and Pečenić was happy to oblige, preferring research to teaching.

That said, nobody was quite expecting to find him face-down on his desk one Monday morning with a particularly difficult set of linear equations soaking up his lifeblood. He’d been shot in the temple at close range.

Perfect numbers–that is, positive integers that are the sum of their proper positive divisors–had fascinated mathematicians since the days of the great Greek mathematician Nicomachus. Only four were known in those days, and relatively few have been uncovered since, none of them odd–something certain figures consider an impossibility.

In 1456, Abd al-Nitypt, an astronomer in the court of Mehmed II at Constantinople, discovered and proved the existence of a fifth perfect number, 33,550,336. He further set forth a complex formula for identifying further perfect numbers, a refinement of Euclid’s formula, and identified a list of values for n which he claimed would, when applied to his formula, reveal all odd perfect numbers between 0 and 10^1500.

This list, the Nitypt Numbers, was eventually lost in the quagmire of the Ottoman archives. They, alongside Fermat’s Last Theorem, were long regarded as some of the most tantalizing mysteries in mathematics.

And Harvery was staring at a copy in al-Nitypt’s own flowing calligraphy.