Author: Colin

Ask Uncle Colin: Circles

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m told there are two circles that touch the x-axis at the origin and are also tangent to the line $4x-3y+24=0$, but I can’t find their equations. Any ideas? - A Geometrically Nasty Example Seems Impossible Hi, AGNESI, and thanks for your message! I’m going to start

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A proof without words

Via nRICH: A circle touches the lines OA extended, OB extended and AB where OA and OB are perpendicular. Show that the diameter of the circle is equal to the perimeter of the triangle. $\blacksquare$

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Ask Uncle Colin: Angles and roots

Dear Uncle Colin, In my non-calculator paper, I’m told $\cos(\theta) = \sqrt{\frac{1}{2}+ \frac{1}{2\sqrt{2}}}$ and that $\sin(\theta) = -\left(\sqrt{\frac{1}{2}-\frac{1}{2\sqrt{2}}}\right)$. Given that $0 \le \theta \lt 2\pi$, find $\theta$. I’ve no idea how to approach it! - Trigonometric Headaches Evaluating This Angle Hi, THETA, and thanks for your message! My third thought

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The Mathematical Ninja and the Cube Root of 81

“I would have to assume the teacher means $\sqrt[4]{81}$ instead.” “That’s as may be. But $4\ln(3)$ is 4.4 (less one part in 800). A third of that is $1.4\dot 6$, less one part in 800, call it 1.465.” “So you’d do $e$ to the power of that?” “Indeed! $\ln(4)$ is

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Calculator Error

Dear Uncle Colin, I have to work out $\cot\left( \frac{3}{2}\pi \right)$. Wolfram Alpha says it’s 0, but when I work out $\frac{1}{\tan\left(\frac{3}{2}\pi\right)}$, my calculator shows an error. What’s going on? - Troublesome Angle, No? Hi, TAN, and thanks for your message! The cotangent function is slightly unusual in that it

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Continued fractions and the square root of 3.

I’m a Big Fan of both @standupmaths and @sparksmaths, two mathematicians who fight the good fight. I was interested to see Ben tackling the square root of 3 using the ‘long division’ method. It’s a method I’ve tried hard to love. It’s a method I just can’t bring myself to

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Seemingly Undefined Integral

Dear Uncle Colin, I need to evaluate $\int_0^{\piby2} \frac{1}{1+\sin(x)}\dx$ but I end up with $\infty - \infty$ and that’s no good! How should I be doing it? Big Integral, Not Exactly Trivial Hi, BINET, and thanks for your message! This is a fun problem! I can think of several possible

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Dictionary of Mathematical Eponymy: Wahba’s Problem

While my thesis has the word ‘topology’ in its title, at heart I’m a vectors-in-3D person. Give me matrices, not manifolds! So today’s entry in the Dictionary of Mathematical Eponymy is one that brings me joy. What is Wahba’s Problem? The mathematical statement of Wahba’s Problem is as follows: Given

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Ask Uncle Colin: An equation full of powers

Dear Uncle Colin, How would you solve $5^{2x+2} + 16\cdot15^x -9^{x+1} = 0$? Doesn’t It Seem Genuinely Unpleasant? Insoluble? Strange, Even? Hi, Disguise, and thanks for your message! It turns out that this does have solutions! The trick is to ask “what would make it less unpleasant?” - and given

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When Maths Gets Difficult

I could probably have framed this post as an “Ask Uncle Colin”, but it feels somehow different, so I’m going to do it as a Monday post. My blog, my rules. On Twitter, @sharanjit asked: I had a point in my education where maths went from being easy to suddenly

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Where do you teach?

I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

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