Rick Mabry recalls shooting pool with colleagues one midweek afternoon in the early 1990s when inspiration struck.
So he did what any mathematician would do. He reached for a napkin and jotted down his thoughts. As he left that afternoon, Mabry tacked his napkin to the wall of the bar. It didn't linger there long - one can easily imagine one of Fud's patrons, haunted by school algebra, ripping it down.
No matter. His inspiration eventually led to a proof on the difficulty of certain shots in pool, published in this year's January issue of The College Mathematics Journal (p 49). Mabry admits that his results will come as no surprise to professional pool players. However, they might just give you the edge when you next hit the green felt, or want to hustle your friends with a spectacular-but-simple trick shot.
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