# Browsing category ask uncle colin

## Ask Uncle Colin: A Cosine Proof

Dear Uncle Colin How would you prove that $\cos(2x) > 1 - 2x^2$ for $x > 0$? - Can’t Obviously See It, Need Explanation Hi, COSINE, and thanks for your message! I’d start by noting that as soon as $x > 1$, the right hand side is smaller than -1,

## 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?

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

## 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

## 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

## 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

## 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

## 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

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

## 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,