Browsing category trigonometry

Ask Uncle Colin: inverses and all sorts

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m stuck on a trigonometry question: find $\cos\br{\frac{1}{2}\arcsin\br{\frac{15}{17}}}$. Any bright ideas? – Any Rules Calculating Some Inverse Notation? Hi, ARCSIN, and thanks for your message! That’s a nasty one! Let’s start by thinking of a triangle with an angle of $\arcsin\br{\frac{15}{17}}$ – the opposite side is 15

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$\cos(72º)$, revisited: a geometric method

Some months ago, I wrote about a method for finding $\cos(72º)$, or $\cos\br{\frac{2\pi}{5}}$ in proper units. Almost immediately, the good people of Twitter and Facebook – notably @ImMisterAl (Al) and @BuryMathsTutor (Mark)- suggested other ways of doing it. Let’s start with Mark’s method, which he dissects in his book GCSE

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Square wheels on a round(ish) floor

The ever-challenging Adam Atkinson, having noticed my attention to the “impossible” New Zealand exams, pointed me at a tricky question from an Italian exam which asked students to verify that, to give a smooth ride on a bike with square wheels (of side length 2), the height of the floor

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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

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The Mathematical Ninja and $\sin(15º)$

The Mathematical Ninja sniffed. “$4\sin(15º)$? Degrees? In my classroom?” “Uh uh sorry, sensei, I mean $4\sin\br{\piby{12}}$, obviously, I was just reading from the textmmmff.” “Don’t eat it all at once. Now, $4\sin\br{\piby{12}}$ is an interesting one. You know all about Ailes’ Rectangle, of course, so you know that $\sin\br{\piby{12}}=\frac{\sqrt{6}-\sqrt{2}}{4}$, which

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Ask Uncle Colin: A peculiar triangle

Dear Uncle Colin, I have a triangle. All I know is that its angles, $\alpha$, $\beta$ and $\gamma$, satisfy $\cos(\alpha)=\frac{1}{4}$ and $\gamma = 30º$ – and I have to find $\tan(\beta)$. Help! – Can't Obviously See It, Need Explanation Hi, COSINE, and thanks for your message! This is one that

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Cosec Proof

Dear Uncle Colin I'm stuck on a trigonometry proof: I need to show that $\cosec(x) – \sin(x) \ge 0$ for $0 < x < \pi$. How would you go about it? – Coming Out Short of Expected Conclusion Hi, COSEC, and thank you for your message! As is so often

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Ask Uncle Colin: Simultaneous Trigonometry

Dear Uncle Colin, I'm normally pretty good at simultaneous equations, but I can't figure out how to solve this for $a$ and $b$. $\cos(a)-\cos(b) = x$ $\sin(a)-\sin(b) = y$ – Any Random Circle Hi, ARC, and thanks for your message! This is, it turns out, a bit trickier than it

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Are you sure that’s a right angle?

What's that, @pickover? Shiver in ecstasy, you say? Just for a change. Shiver in ecstasy. The sides of a pentagon, hexagon, & decagon, inscribed in congruent circles, form [a] right triangle. — Cliff Pickover (@pickover) May 20, 2017 That's neat. But why? Let's suppose the circles all have radius

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Revisiting some missing solutions

“You know how you’re always putting things like ‘just to keep @RealityMinus3 happy’ in your posts?” “Of course, sensei!” “Well… you remember that post about missing solutions in a trig problem?” “Ut-oh.” What follows is a guest post by Elizabeth A. Williams, who is @RealityMinus3 in real life. This thing

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