October, 2015

Ask Uncle Colin: A logarithmic coincidence?

Dear Uncle Colin, I noticed that $2^{\frac{1}{1,000,000}} = 1.000 000 693 147 2$ or so, pretty much exactly $\left(1 + \frac{1}{1,000,000} \ln(2)\right)$. Is that a coincidence? Nice Interesting Numbers; Jarring Acronym Dear NINJA, The easiest way to see that it's not a coincidence is to check out $3^{\frac{1}{1,000,000}} $, which

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Review: Things To Make And Do In The Fourth Dimension, by Matt Parker

It's genuinely difficult to write an innovative maths book, something that'll teach even the most grizzled and cynical of tutors a thing or two, but @standupmaths1 has done exactly that. Most popular maths books, my own included, tread a pretty familiar path through the history of maths, throw out a

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An interesting GCSE triangle

It's not often I have anything nice to say about EdExcel. I've usually found their exams to be the most predictable and least thought-provoking of all the boards (at least until they finally snapped in 2013 and let Kate the Photographer loose on an unsuspecting cohort). At GCSE, their advanced

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Wrong, But Useful: Episode 29

In this episode of Wrong, But Useful, @reflectivemaths and @icecolbeveridge...: Argue about the inferiority of statistics Give a number of the podcast: $e^{\frac{\pi}{2}} = i^i \approx 0.20788...$ Review @standupmaths's excellent Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension Investigate equable shapes in several dimensions, with reference to @tombutton's MathsJam

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Ask Uncle Colin: an integral that’s giving me a headache

Dear Uncle Colin, I've been trying to work out $I = \int_0^{\frac \pi 4} x \frac{\sin(x)}{\cos^3(x)} \d x$ for hours. It's the fifth time this week I've been up until the small hours working on integration and it's affecting my work and home life. I'm worried I'm becoming a calcoholic.

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The Maths Police (Financial Unit) Investigate

A guest post from @FennekLyra, who is Eva in real life. Thanks, Eva! “Want to see something awful?” asked Agent Lyra1 suddenly, turning to her fellow maths agent and friend Dodo at the £16,000 question of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? that both of them watched daily. “Oh come

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Ask Uncle Colin: two almost-matching sequences

Dear Uncle Colin Somebody told me that the sequences $\left \lfloor \frac {2n}{\ln(2)} \right \rfloor$ and $\left \lceil \frac{2}{2^{\frac 1n}-1} \right \rceil$ were equal up to the 777,451,915,729,368th term, and I shivered in ecstasy. Is there something wrong with me? -- Sequences Considered Harmful When Agreeing Really Zealously Hi, SCHWARZ

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The times table game

Every Friday afternoon, double maths with Mr Hutt: he would march up and down the classroom, barking: "Number seven: six times eight. Six times eight. Number eight: ..." Twenty times tables questions, rapid-fire, scores kept. (One week, I fumbled $7\times 8$, blemishing my perfect score; Paul Edwards, on the other

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Ask Uncle Colin: An imaginary curve?

Dear Uncle Colin, I was playing with parametric equations and stumbled on something Wolfram Alpha wouldn't plot: $x=t^i;\, y = t^{-i}$. Does this curve really exist? Or am I imagining it? -- A Real Graph? A Non-existant Drawing? Hi, ARGAND -- what you're trying to plot certainly exists; whether or

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Highest common factor and least common multiple – TMTOWTDI

A student asks: I don't get the Venn diagram method for highest common factor and least common multiple. Do you have any other suggestions? As it happens, I do. I'm assuming you're OK with finding the prime factorisation of a number using (for example) a factor tree. In this example,

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