The Flying Colours Maths Blog: Latest posts

Ask Uncle Colin: another vile limit

Dear Uncle Colin, Apparently, you can use L'Hôpital's rule to find the limit of $\left(\tan(x)\right)^x$ as $x$ goes to 0 - but I can't see how! - Fractions Required, Example Given Excepted Hi, FREGE, and thanks for your question! As it stands, you can't use L'Hôpital - but you can

Read More

Another of Alison’s Ace Puzzles, Revisited

This is a guest post from @ImMisterAl, who prefers to remain anonymous in real life. It refers to the problem in this post: a semi-circle is inscribed in a 3-4-5 triangle as shown; find $X$. As with any mathematical problem, my first thought was to sort out exactly what I

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Are normals… normal?

Dear Uncle Colin, I don't understand why the normal gradient is the negative reciprocal of the tangent gradient. What's the logic there? -- Pythagoras Is Blinding You To What's Obvious Hi, PIBYTWO, and thanks for your message! My favourite way to think about perpendicular gradients is to imagine a line

Read More

From Euclid to Cantor

One of my favourite quotes is from Stefan Banach: "A good mathematician sees analogies between theorems. A great mathematician sees analogies between analogies." This post is clearly in the former camp. I'm fairly sure it's a trivial thing, but it's not something I'd noticed before. One of the first serious

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Trigonometric inverses and picking the correct quadrant

Dear Uncle Colin, When I have an angle in the second quadrant, I can find it just fine using $\cos^{-1}$ - but using $\sin^{-1}$ or $\tan^{-1}$ gives me an angle in the fourth quadrant. I don't understand why this is! -- I Need Verbose Explanations; Radians Seem Excellent Hi, INVERSE,

Read More

A surprising overlap

Every so often, my muggle side and mathematical side conflict, and this clip from @marksettle shows one of them. My toddler's train track is freaking me out right now. What is going on here?! pic.twitter.com/9o8bVWF5KO — marc blank-settle (@MarcSettle) April 6, 2016 My muggle side says "wait, what, how can

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Perpendicular vectors

Dear Uncle Colin, I'm struggling a bit with my C4 vectors. Most of it is fine, except when I have to find a point $P$ on a given line such that $\vec{AP}$ is perpendicular to the line, for some known $A$. How do I figure that out? -- Any Vector

Read More

Wrong, But Useful: Episode 41

This month on Wrong, But Useful, @reflectivemaths and @icecolbeveridge are joined by @evelynjlamb, who is Evelyn Lamb in real life. She writes the Roots Of Unity column for Scientific American. We discuss: How Evelyn got into maths, into writing and into France Evelyn picks the numbers of the podcast: 339,613

Read More

Another of Alison’s Ace Puzzles

A nice puzzle this week, via NRICH's magnificent @ajk44: a semicircle is inscribed in a 3-4-5 triangle as shown. Find $X$. I think it's a nice puzzle because Alison's way of doing it was entirely different to mine, but thankfully got the same answer. You might like to try it

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Bridges, Donkeys and Triangles

Dear Uncle Colin, I'm struggling to understand why, if you know a triangle has two sides the same, the base angles must be the same. Can you explain? -- I'm Struggling Over Some Coherent Explanation Leveraging Equal Sides Hi, ISOSCELES, and thanks for your message! There are several good proofs

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.