# May, 2013

## Silly Questions Amnesty

It's an odd day today - and also palindromic 31/5/13. Assuming you write the date that way around, of course. Any questions? Anything on your mind? Just give me a shout below and I'll get back to you with as good an answer as I can!

## Wrong, But Useful: Episode 3

It's the awkward third episode! In which... @sr_cav (who is Cav in real life) is nice about us on his blog Dave meets Art Benjamin Art Benjamin's TED talks about mathemagic and statistics Rüdiger Gamm's mental arithmetic Secrets of the mathematical ninja Colin invites you to MathsJam - Yarnfield Park,

## Maths in the real world: flowerpot volumes

A reader asks: how do I figure out the volume of soil I need to fill a flowerpot? A flowerpot is a slightly peculiar shape: it's not a cone, it's not a cylinder, it's somewhere between the two. Luckily, we have a word for such shapes: it's a frustum of

## Florence Nightingale: Lives of the Mathematical Ninja

A Mathematical Ninja? Surely Nightingale was just a nurse? Wandering about with a lamp? Well, no. For several reasons, no. First up: there's no such thing as 'just a nurse'. Especially not in the crowded field hospitals of the Crimea. More to the point, Nightingale was a leading light1 in

## Silly Questions Amnesty

Roll on summer! Only a month or so until I can take a well-earned break. Meanwhile, I'm still on duty if you have questions - just drop me a message in the comments below!

## A nasty proof: angle bisectors and ellipses

This came up in class, and took me several attempts, so I thought I'd share it. The question asks about an ellipse with equation $9x^2 + 25y^2 = 225$, with foci $A$ and $B$ at $(\pm4,0)$ - the challenge is to prove that the normal to the ellipse at a

## An insight into the mathematical mind: Box-Muller transforms

While writing an obituary for George Box, I stumbled on something I thought was ingenious: a method for generating independent pairs of numbers drawn from the normal distribution. I'll concede: that's not necessarily something that makes the average reader-in-the-street stop in their tracks and say "Wow!" In honesty, it would

## Silly Questions Amnesty

The only stupid question (apparently) is the one you don't ask. So, the question you leave in the comments is clearly not a stupid one. It might even provide me with ideas for a post later on :o)

No spam ever, obviously.

##### Where do you teach?

I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.