The Mathematics of Bird Shit

This morning was wonderful. The sun shone, the birds sang, blue sky stretched to the horizon in all directions, and there was hardly a breath of wind. As I cycled through the country estate that the office nestles in the depths of, I checked my wristwatch – 8:47am. Plenty of time to slow down, relax, and feel the breeze during the last half mile before arriving at work. I sat up in the saddle, took my hands from the handlebars, and rested them on my thighs.

And that’s when the bird shit splattered down my front.

While wondering what the hell I was going to do, I instinctively started scraping it off my t-shirt with my fingers, and rolled to the side of the road to wipe my hands on the grass. Aha – I could grab some grass, and rub that on the t-shirt – if there was any. The grass had been cut.

And that’s when I looked up and saw the gorgeous girl out for her morning run, heading straight towards me. I smiled, still pulling my stretched out t-shirt in one hand, bird shit all over the fingers of my other hand. She wanted to know where the paths around the estate lead, and seemed to take no notice of my predicament at all. I like to think she was being well mannered, rather than stare, and shout “OH MY GOD!” while recoiling in horror.

While cycling the remainder of the journey into work, I started to see the funny side of it, and how the entire situation might appear in a mathematics text book.

“Jonathan is cycling through the estate at 5 metres a second in a southerly direction. He passes under a 20m tall tree, where several birds occupy the high bows. The bows sway back and forth with a coefficient of elasticity of 0.5, catching the wind according to a coefficient of friction of 0.2. If any of the birds shit themselves spectacularly, what percentage chance does Jonathan have of introducing himself to the beautiful runner approaching from the west without being covered in bird shit?”

Needless to say, when I arrived in the office I headed to the bathroom. I am now sitting at my desk looking like I just climbed from a swimming pool. I could only wash the shirt by hand in the washbasins, and don’t have a spare.

Go on. Laugh it up.

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