Browsing category ask uncle colin

Ask Uncle Colin: A Modest Inheritance

Dear Uncle Colin, My six siblings and I have inherited a fortune of £$10^{10} + 10^{(10^2)} + \dots 10^{(10^{10})}$, to be divided evenly between us. However, we’re a very squabbly family, so we want to know how much money will be left over once it’s divided up. Can you help?

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Consecutiveness

Dear Uncle Colin, Can there be two or more consecutive irrational numbers? - Between A Number And Consecutive… Huh? Hi, BANACH, and thanks for your message! We… have a problem here. When you’re dealing with integers, consecutive is really neatly defined: every number has a single successor, a number that’s

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: A Trigonometric Puzzle

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m given that $0 \le x \lt 180^o$, and that $\cos(x) + \sin(x) = \frac{1}{2}$. I have to find $p$ and $q$ such that $\tan(x) = -\frac{p + \sqrt{q}}{3}$. Where do I even start? - Some Identity Needing Evaluation Hi, SINE, and thanks for your message! There

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Powers and squares

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m told that $5\times 2^x + 1$ (with $x$ a non-negative integer) is a square number - how do I find $x$? - A Baffling Equation. Logs? Hi, ABEL, and thanks for your message! We’re looking for a square number - let’s call it $y^2$ - that’s

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: The Probability of Winning

Dear Uncle Colin, Suppose Team 1 beats Team 2 by a score of 10-7, and Team 2 beats Team 3 by a score of 10-4. How would we predict the score of a match between Team 1 and Team 3? - Make A Team Calculation Happen Hi, MATCH, and thanks

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: a fractional power

Dear Uncle Colin, How would you work out $\br{\frac{4}{5}}^{10}$ in your head? - Probability Estimation Needed, Relic Of Slide-rule Era Hi, PENROSE, and thanks for your message! That’s really two questions: how I would do it, and how the Mathematical Ninja would do it. Me Me, I’d probably use the

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: an irrational power

Dear Uncle Colin, How would you work out something like $(-1)^\pi$? Doesn’t Everyone Miss Out Irrational Values Reckoning Exponents? Hi, DEMOIVRE, and thanks for your message! In the words of the politician: difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. One the one hand there is one answer that seems sensible - but on

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Family

Dear Uncle Colin, In a culture where people have children until they have a daughter and then stop, what proportion will be daughters? * Families Retain Extra Girls Evidently Hi, FREGE, and thanks for your message1 ! Spoiler alert: it’s a half. There are several ways to see this, and

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: The Polar Express(ion)

Dear Uncle Colin, I have the polar equation $\theta = k$, and I want to turn it into rectangular coordinates. I worked it out to be the line $y = x \tan(k)$, but the solution says it’s only a half-line. Why is that? Perplexed Over Line And Radius Hi, POLAR,

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: A Six-Digit Square

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m told a six-digit number, ABC,DEF1, is a perfect square such that DEF is 8 times ABC. How do I find this number? - Very Interesting, Except That Eight Hello, VIETE, and thanks for your message! This is as much of a typographical challenge as it is

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