Guidelines for Curio Authors
As editors we regularly need to decide whether or not to add a curio. The key question is will people find it curios (interesting, though-provoking, ...)? The "better" curios make the whole collection better. The "poorer" curios discourage folks from reading any further. Of course "better", "poorer", "interesting", even "curious" are all relative terms! Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
What makes a curios "better" (and likely to be accepted)
- Using an active voice to write terse and lively prose.
- Correct spelling and grammar.
- The use of standard mathematical terminology, notation and symbols.
- That little extra--"the only example of" of the "smallest prime such that".
- Combining different ideas. (Not just "a palindrome", there are too many of these, but "the largest palindrome ever spoken by a US president in an inauguration speech.")
- A surprise element. "I wouldn't have guessed that!"
- Written about a prime number which has no curios yet.
What makes a curio "poorer" (and likely to be rejected)
- An empty phrase such as "an interesting prime" or "a curios looking prime."
- Special terminology, especial names you made up: "A nacho-Brunner prime of the third spiral."
- Errors, even if common (such as 11 is the sum of the first four primes).
- Worded so that it is only true for at a specific time. For example "the largest known twin prime" should be reworded "On July 17th, 2001, this new record twin prime was discovered."
- Being like other entries (or likely to spawn many similar entries)! Some things are interesting once. A very few things twice. But virtually nothing is interesting twenty times in a row.
- A statement that is too often true such as "n is a plateau prime" (there are probably infinitely many of these) or "the integer part of *e7 is a prime" (there are uncountably many such real numbers!)
- Written about a prime which already has an abundance of curios (2, 3, 5, 7).
- If more than seven curios are submitted in a seven day period, the extras will be deleted and never even seen by an editor.
Does this mean a Curio with one (or more) of the better characteristics will always be accepted and one with the poorer will not? No. These are just rough guidelines. We always want to encourage experimentation and creativity. A hard and fast set of rules would make a dead collection.