The Flying Colours Maths Blog: Latest posts

Ask Uncle Colin: Dimensions of a box

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m told that a rectangular box has a surface area of 64cm2, and I have to find the maximum possible volume. How would I do that? – Can Uncle Bring Obviousness Into Differentiation? Hi, CUBOID, and thanks for your message – I certainly hope I can! We

Read More

Random number tables

I challenge you to write an interesting blog post about random number tables — Jo Morgan (@mathsjem) June 28, 2017 If you flick to the back of an old A-level formula sheets, you might spot a list of random digits like this one from an MEI book: Why on earth

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Completing the Square

Dear Uncle Colin, I was asked to complete the square on $f(x) = 2x^2 + 13x + 20$. I started by halving everything, which makes it cleaner, but the solution manual disagrees. What gives? – Have Always Loathed Functions Hi, HALF, and thanks for your message! Dividing a quadratic by

Read More

Wrong, But Useful: Episode 53

In this month’s episode of Wrong But Useful (#53), brought to you by the power of Lemsip and a day in bed, Colin and Dave are joined by Special Guest Co-Hosts @sean_jamshidi and #NikiWithoutTwitter, who are Sean Jamshidi and Niki Kalaydzhieva from Chalkdust Magazine1 in real life. Niki is an

Read More

Daylight, Durlston Castle, and Where is Hamburg?

“Is Hamburg that much further north than London?” I furrowed my brow. Hamburg, to the best of my knowledge, is not that much further north than London. But here it was, written in stone (on the side of Durlston Castle in Swanage.) (I’ve transcribed the sign at the bottom of

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: What is $\cos(72º)$?

Dear Uncle Colin, How would you calculate $\cos(72º)$ by hand? – Pointless Historical Inquiry Hi, PHI, and thanks for your message. There seems to be an awful lot of degree use around at the moment, and I’m not very happy about it. But still, in the spirit of answering what

Read More

An “Impossible” New Zealand exam: Part II

Last time, we looked at an ‘impossible’ question from a New Zealand exam, which was (of course) nothing of the sort. The second question highlighted as a brute was this one: (Full exam is here.) But, you see, I look at that and think… part (iv) isn’t straightforward on its

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: A Plane-teaser

Dear Uncle Colin, In a recent contest, I was told that $a$, $b$ and $c$ were real numbers such that $a-7b+8c=4$ and $8a + 4b -c = 7$. I had to find $a^2 – b^2 + c^2$ and couldn’t see a way in. Can you? – Puzzle Lacks Answer –

Read More

An “Impossible” New Zealand exam: Part I

To-may-to / tomato; potato / po-tah-to; impossible exam / underprepared students. This time it’s the hapless Kiwis who are making Downfall parody videos and complaining that their practice papers hadn’t prepared them for stuff on the syllabus. Never mind; the formidable @solvemymaths has picked out the two most-complained-about questions, and

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Horizontal Asymptotes

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m working on finding horizontal asymptotes for rational functions. I normally do that by division, but my teacher wants me to do it by rearranging – and I don’t really know what’s going on there! Can you explain? – Horizontal Asymptotes Leaving Me Outwitted Somehow Hi, HALMOS,

Read More

Sign up for the Sum Comfort newsletter and get a free e-book of mathematical quotations.

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.

On twitter