October, 2019

Ask Uncle Colin: Missing Planes

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m told that 70% of the aircraft that go missing in a certain country are subsequently rediscovered. Of those that are recovered, 60% have an emergency locator, and 90% of those that aren’t recovered, don’t have a locator. Supposing an aircraft has disappeared, what’s the probability it

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Summing Products

Some days your mind wanders into an interesting puzzle: not necessarily because it’s a difficult puzzle, but because it has familiar result. Then the puzzle becomes, how are the two things linked? For example, I had cause to add up all of the numbers in the times tables - let’s

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Wrong, But Useful: Episode 72

In this month's podcast, we're joined by @CoreMathsCat, who is Catherine van Sarloos in real life. We discuss: Number of the Podcast: 179 (balloons) Maths Week England is mid-November (11-16th). Catherine is involved in running a contest for it! Via Peter Rowlett: Women’s names Via Adam Atkinson: rounding up or

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Curve

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m given that a curve has equation $y = ax^3 + bx^2 + cx + 1$. It has a turning point at $\left( -1, \frac{11}{3} \right)$ and an inflexion point when $x=2$. How do I find the missing constants? - I’m Not Feeling Like Evaluating Constants, Thanks

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Hotplates

“Do the hotplates heat the food through properly?” “Oh yes, they come out of the oven at 200 degrees and the temperature drops by a degree every minute.” To @dragondodo’s credit, she did not launch into a lecture on Newton cooling. But she did grumble about it to me -

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Partition Enigma

Dear Uncle Colin, In reading Sir Dermot Turing’s XY&Z, he states that the number of species of cycle is 101 - and after a bit of thought, I figured out that that’s the number of partitions of the number 13. However, I couldn’t work out how to get 101! Can

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The Mathematical Ninja and the *Other* Pole

“Sensei, why have you covered the entire Earth in an area-preserving wrap?” “It’s all @colinthemathmo's doing.” “I’m surprised you’re doing it in hardware rather than working it out in your head.” “Oh, $\frac{1000}{\sqrt{\pi}}$? That’s trivial.” “But of course it is.” “I mean, $\frac{1}{\pi}$ is pretty close to $\frac{1}{\sqrt{10}}$, which is

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Ask Uncle Colin: Family

Dear Uncle Colin, I have a probability question that involves a weird place where every family has three children, and every child is either a girl or a boy. 50-50. Independent of each other. If I take a random family, and choose at random one of the children, I have

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Dictionary of Mathematical Eponymy: Johnson Solids

I am a big fan of polyhedra. I’ve raved elsewhere about the icosidodecahedron, and even something as dull as a cube is something I can get behind. And so, naturally, I wondered: is there a periodic table of polyhedra? And the answer is “not exactly”. But there’s something pretty close

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Ask Uncle Colin: The Timeless SUVAT Equation

Dear Uncle Colin, I can derive the timeless SUVAT equation $v^2 = u^2 + 2as$, but I can’t intuitively see where it comes from. Any clues? - Everyone Needs Explanations, Really Get Yours Hi, ENERGY, and thanks for your message! This is one that I never really picked up on

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