Author: Colin

Ask Uncle Colin: A Missing Digit

Dear Uncle Colin, A seven-digit integer has 870,720 as its last six digits. It is the product of six consecutive even integers. What is the missing first digit? Please Reveal Our Digit! Underlying Calculation Too Hi, PRODUCT, and thanks for your message! There are several approaches to this (as usual)

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Barney’s Wedge

Once upon a MathsJam, Barney Maunder-Taylor showed up with a curious object, a wedge with a circular base. Why? Well, if you held a light above it, it cast a circular shadow. From one side, the shadow was an equilateral triangle; along the third axis, a rectangle. A lovely thing.

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Ask Uncle Colin: An Infinite Product

Dear Uncle Colin, I have to show that $\Pi_1^\infty \frac{(2n+1)^2 - 1}{(2n+1)^2} > \frac{3}{4}$. How would you do that? Partial Results Obtained Don’t Undeniably Create Truth Hi, PRODUCT, and thanks for your message! That’s a messy one. I can see two reasonable approaches: one is to take the whole thing

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Regions of a circle

On a recent MathsJam Shout, an Old Chestnut appeared (in this form, due to @jamestanton): If you’ve not seen it, stop reading here and have a play with it - it’s a classic puzzle for a reason. Below the line are spoilers. Counting is hard The first thing you’d probably

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Wrong, But Useful: Episode 70

In this episode, we're joined by special guest co-host @sophiebays, who is Dr Sophie Carr in real life, and the world's most interesting mathematician1. We discuss: The Big Internet Math-Off. My favourite pitch wasn’t really in the contest! I also liked Alex’s wobbly table and Anna’s FURNACE. Number of the

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Ask Uncle Colin: Why is $e$ not 1?

Dear Uncle Colin, If $e = \left( 1+ \frac{1}{n} \right)^n$ when $n = \infty$, how come it isn’t 1? Surely $1 + \frac{1}{\infty}$ is just 1? - I’m Not Finding It Natural, It’s Terribly Yucky Hi, INFINITY, and thanks for your message. You have fallen into one of maths’s classic

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Dictionary of Mathematical Eponymy: Hoberman Sphere

What are they? I thought, until I looked closely, that we had a Hoberman sphere in the children’s toybox. We don’t: we have something closely related to it, though. The Hoberman mechanism comprises a series of pairs of pivoted struts arranged end to end. Each pair looks a little like

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Ask Uncle Colin: Curved Surface Areas

Dear Uncle Colin, I’ve been struggling with this: “If the surface area of a sphere to cylinder is in the ratio 4:3 and the sphere has a radius of 3a, calculate the radius of the cylinder if the radius if the cylinder is equal to its height.” Can you help?

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Futility Closet, Fibonacci and Quadratic Residues

I love Futility Closet -- it's an incredible collection of interesting bits and pieces, but it has a special place in my heart because they love and appreciate maths. Not only that, they appreciate maths that I find interesting. The internet has many interesting miscellanies, and many excellent sites specialising

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Ask Uncle Colin: A problem of squares and powers

Dear Uncle Colin, I have to solve $615 + x^2 = 2^y$ for integers $x$ and $y$. I’ve solved it by inspection using Desmos ($x=59$ and $y=12$ is the only solution), but I’d prefer a more analytical solution! Getting Exponent Right Makes An Interesting Noise Hi, GERMAIN, and thanks for

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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.