Browsing category trigonometry

Ask Uncle Colin: A Trigonometric Proof

Dear Uncle Colin, I have a trig identity I can’t prove! I have to show that $\frac{\cos(x)}{1-\sin(x)} = \tan(x) + \sec(x)$. Strangely Excited Comment About Non-Euclidean Trigonometry. Hi, SECANT, and thanks for your message! This is a slightly sneaky one, but definitely a good one to practice. Let’s do it

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Tangential Conundrum

Dear Uncle Colin, I was asked to work out $\tan\br{\theta + \piby 2}$, but the formula failed because $\tan\br{\piby 2}$ is undefined. Is there another way? – Lost Inna Mess, Infinite Trigonometry Hi, LIMIT, and thanks for your message! In fact, there are several ways to approach it! Basic geometry

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Ask Uncle Colin: Stuck on some trig

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m trying to solve $2\cos(3x)-3\sin(3x)=-1$ (for $0\le \theta \lt 90º$) but I keep getting stuck and/or confused! What do you recommend? – Losing Angles, Getting Ridiculous Answers, Nasty Geometric Equation Hi, LAGRANGE, and thank you for your message! There are a couple of ways to approach this:

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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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