Thirtynine seconds seems longer than
the text suggests. Did Holmes round off? miscalculate? Are the
posts not

60 yards apart? A teacher might want to
construct (or ask students to build) a web page for
students to explore 
the
underlying Diophantine equation (next page). 
There's a different problem with Holmes'
archenemy. In The Final Problem
Professor Moriarty is described as

"He is a man
of good birth and excellent education, endowed by nature with a
phenomenal mathematical

faculty. At the age of
twentyone he wrote a treatise upon the Binomial Theorem, which
has had a European 
vogue. On the strength of it he won the Mathematical
Chair at one of our smaller universities, and had, to all 
appearance, a most brilliant career before him." 
In
The Valley
of Fear Moriarty is also credited with "Is he not the
celebrated author of The
Dynamics of an 
Asteroid, a book which
ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that it is
said that there was no man 
in the
scientific press capable of criticizing it?" 
There has been some very informed speculation over the years
about models for Moriarty. 
© 2018 Peter F. Zoll. All rights reserved. 