Wrong, But Useful: Episode 50


This month’s episode is the 2017 MathsJam special. What we talked about:

  • Some tables
  • Some talks we liked (featuring @reflectivemaths, @ajk_44, @zoelgriffifths (of whom more later), @macaronique, @chalkdustmag, @pecnut, @mscroggs, @televisionduck, Andrew Russell)
  • Dave talks to @pecnut about his favourite bits, how to dress to give a lecture, Catchphrase1, oblongs,
  • … also, briefly, to @mb_whitworth (Martin Whitworth in real life) about how long a poem might take to put together.
  • … then to @zoelgriffifths, who performs her poem “e, to thee, x” for us. (Zoe has asked us to mention that the video will not be available on the Big MathsJam website after all.)
  • Some second-day talks that caught our attention: @pozorvlak’s trip to Kyrgyzstan, Robert Woolley’s board game-fitting exercise, Oliver’s talk on Fibonacci matrices, @stmbull’s look into making an artificial Twitter Trump, @peterrowlett’s Fermi problems, Adam Atkinson building sculptures in Sicily2, Glen Whitney on holes, @stecks on Sheeran numbers, Kathryn Taylor on origami, and @willkirkby’s gorgeous talk on cellular automata.
  • The MathsJam Jam
  • Puzzle: Three congruent equilateral triangles are placed vertically so that the bases form an equilateral triangle. The apexes form another equilateral; how long are its sides, compared to the other triangles?

I need to apologise to @stecks, @peterrowlett and @aPaulTaylor, who spoke to Dave for ages; despite my best efforts to save everything carefully, the audio for that interview was lost. We plan to have at least two of them on as hosts in the next few months, and hopefully they’ll be able to remember what they said.

As always, a huge thank-you to @colinthemathmo and @stecks for coordinating the conference, and to everyone who comes along and makes it the best bit of the year.

* Edited 2017-11-14 to point to the correct Italian island. Thanks, Adam!
* Edited 2017-11-14 to correct @aPaulTaylor’s twitter handle.
* Edited 2017-11-16 to correct @willkirkby’s twitter handle and add a snarky comment about Dave’s geography.


Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.

  1. viewerservices@itv.com is the address to email if the ‘squares’ on Catchphrase bother you. []
  2. Adam notes that the 300,000 or so residents of Catania — all of whom are presumably WBU listeners — will be surprised to learn they live in a village. []


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