Some people have wondered how I come up with such serial columns as General l’Hopital (v75, 1997; v85, 2001) and Quantum Loop (v77, 1998; v81, 1999). In fact, creating such Taylor Series’ is not that difficult, and I shall now reveal the appropriate steps in their creation to anyone who cares, or is actually interested in making their own Taylor Series derivative.
- Select a story arc. Something you can effectively babble about for six issues. If it’s related to math, all the better. You don’t have to stick to said arc the whole time but people will appreciate knowing that the column will eventually stop. This may deter them from coming after you with sharp objects (the operative word being ‘may’). Prior arcs of mine include “mathematical punctuation”, and “why chairs were chained in MC”.
- Write each column the same week it comes out in mathNEWS. Don’t prepare anything in advance. This way you can slip in any current events as well as give yourself a crash course in stress management. They usually only take between 2 and 4 hours to do anyway.
- When you write, have a math textbook on hand. Liberally insert terms into the column. As an example, don’t say “You did something wrong”, say “You didn’t log the major factors” or “What you-knit was not a-tribute”. There are actually two ways to do this.
• Write the column, go back and change the wording. In my case, most often done with QLoop. Classic QLoop comments include “Lynn Kedlist cursed, then recursed”, “My processes have better threads than you, Admiral” and “the CPU will be arrested for making con currency to buy hash”.
• Pick out some good catch phrases first, or words that you want to use together, and fill in plot elements around them. In my case, most often done with l’Hopital. Classic l’Hopital comments include a paragraph containing words all starting with “ex”, “Gran U. Larity is into cayenne distribution”, “back us now or form”, and the redoubtable “Gram Schmidt ortho gone, Ali Zay’s shun process”.
- If possible, include some mathematical trivia and words like paraskavedekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th) to maintain reader interest. For QLoop this was required, for l’Hopital it seemed a moral at the end would suffice. Doing this means there’s a chance someone will actually learn something by reading the column. Of course, there’s also a chance they’ll simply be totally confused, but if they miss out on the enlightenment that’s their problem.
- Finally, make sure to carefully spell and grammar check your work. Whether you have available editors on a production night or not, you don’t want them correcting intentional “kneed” or “monic” errors anyway.
So there you have it. Note that if you have a topic you can only babble about for one issue, it may still be useful (witness Sine Field). I now leave my legacy in the hands of others… but remember, old mathNEWS editors never die. They just get written off.
-Greg “hologrami” Taylor
[This appeared along with the last General l’Hopital, Volume 85, issue 6, March 30, 2001. By this point I had basically already graduated University, though I would contribute a couple columns later, as I did my first year of teaching in Sept 2001.
Did you find this informative? Recall there was also the behind the scenes notes for General l’Hopital Entry 1.5 & 1.6, if you like. Now, if you came here looking for information about Brook Taylor’s infinite sums of mathematical terms… sorry about that? Hope you’re still entertained, thanks for reading, feel free to drop a comment below.]