An interesting tweet, some time ago, from @RJS2212: Two unit fractions where denominators differ by 2Add fractionsNumerator & denominator of the sum are two smaller numbers of Pythag triple — Robert J Smith (@RJS2212) May 30, 2016 And of course, you wonder two things: a) why does it work, and

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Posted in ask uncle colin, mechanics 3

Dear Uncle Colin, I clumsily dropped a particle of mass $m$! Luckily, it’s attached to a light elastic string with a modulus of elasticity of $3mg$ and natural length $a$. The other end of the string is attached to the point where I dropped the weight from. When I say

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Posted in ninja maths, trigonometry

“Forty-two degrees,” said the Mathematical Ninja, as smugly as possible while still using degrees. The student’s hand had barely twitched towards the calculator. “Go ahead, punk,” said the Mathematical Ninja. “Make my day.” “Righto,” said the student, and tapped in $\tan^{-1} \left( 0.9 \right)$, carefully closing the bracket. “41.987. That’s

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Posted in ask uncle colin

Dear Uncle Colin, Inspired by a recent XKCD cartoon, I want to start measuring temperatures in radians celsius. How can I quickly convert between the two? Made Up Nonsense? Réaumur’s Octogesimal First up, MUNRO, that’s a really bad idea. I’ve said elsewhere that I don’t like degrees for measuring angles,

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Posted in arithmetic, fractions

It’s encouraging to see a few less-predictable questions coming up in the new GCSE and A-level specifications. @mathsjem highlighted an especially nice GCSE one: Question 26 from yesterday’s Edexcel Methods 2 GCSE paper. Helpful for revising recurring decimals. pic.twitter.com/78BghgBSvE — Jo Morgan (@mathsjem) June 17, 2016 This is unusual more

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Posted in ask uncle colin, trigonometry

Dear Uncle Colin, You know how sometimes $\sin(2x)$ is rational and $\sin(5x)$ is rational and $\sin(7x)$ is rational, right? Would that necessarily mean that $\sin(12x)$ is rational? Asking for a friend. — Perhaps You THink All Geometry’s On Right Angled Stuff Hi, PYTHAGORAS, I believe it does! (In fact, I

Read More →Uncle Colin recently explained how he would prove the identity $\sin(2x) \equiv 2 \sin(x)\cos(x)$. Naturally, that isn’t the only proof. @traumath pointed me at an especially elegant one involving the unit circle. Suppose we have an isosceles triangle set up like this: The vertical ‘base’ of the triangle is $2\sin(\alpha)$

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Posted in ask uncle colin, statistics 1

Dear Uncle Colin, In Statistics, we were shown a picture of the standardised normal distribution curve, and the base stops at +4 and -4. Why is it not $\pm 5$, $\pm 10$, or anything else? Is there something special about 4? — Got An Unanswered Statistics Struggle Dear GAUSS, The

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Posted in proof

Over at @onthisdayinmath, Pat highlights a @jamestanton question about squares: $2^2$ ends with 4 and $12^2$ ends with 44. Is there a square than ends 444? How about one that ends 4444? Pat’s answer (yes to the first — $38^2 = 1444$ is the smallest — and probably not to

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Posted in podcasts

In this month’s episode, @reflectivemaths and @icecolbeveridge discuss: Dave is baffled by the idea of the Anniversary Games but happy to have a reduced workload We agree on the name and age of the podcast Number of the podcast: 36, the smallest non-trivial square triangle number. Colin has a new

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