One of the many sad consequences of the current lockdown, possibly the most unfortunate of all, is that the famous Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling competition will almost certainly not be taking place this year. In the spirit of finding light in the darkness, let’s at least have a look at how we may improve it for next year. With maths!

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On which shaped planet am I the heaviest?

Continuing on from my last post concerning optimisation and Lagrange multipliers, I came across a neat little paper on the arXiv here, which asks and answers the question: what shape should a planet be to maximise the gravitational force at a given position? This is a fun problem, solved using an extension of the techniques from the last post, namely the use of Lagrange multipliers to optimise a function given some constraint.

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