Author: Colin

Ask Uncle Colin: Matching sines

Dear Uncle Colin, How do I solve $\sin(3x) = \sin(5x)$ for $0 \le x \lt 360$? Seems I Need Extra Smarts Hi, SINES, and thanks for your message! This involves a formula I always have to look up, or work out from scratch. Today I am in a working out

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The Dictionary of Mathematical Eponymy: The MacWilliams Identity

After the Second World War, there was a boom in the study of transmitting encoded data. In likelihood, I imagine the boom started earlier, and the boom was more about the declassified publication of papers on this topic than about a sudden increase in productivity. This month’s mathematical hero, Jessie

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Ask Uncle Colin: Laying Bricks

Dear Uncle Colin, I have a question I can’t make sense of: “It takes 3 bricklayers four hours to lay 4200 bricks. How long would it take 2 bricklayers to lay 3150 bricks?” I can never figure out when to multiply and when to divide! Markscheme Obtusely Recommends Taking A

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The Mathematical Ninja and the Cube Root of 13

A physicist. A calculator. The Mathematical Ninja’s face - what could be seen of it - was more snarl than feature. It’s quite tricky to hiss something that doesn’t have any sibilant consonants, but they hissed all the same: “The cube root of 13? You don’t need a calculator for

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Ask Uncle Colin: Where Should I Send Charitable Contributions?

Dear Uncle Colin, I know you don't ask for any money for your incessant blogging, and I've already bought Cracking Mathematics and The Maths Behind - how can I possibly repay you for your work? - Charities Helping Resist Inequality, Serving To Massively Ameliorate Society Hi, CHRISTMAS, and thanks for

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The Classwiz and the Normal Distribution

I realised today I’ve been advising my students… not wrong, exactly, but imprecisely. Capriciously. Unmathematically. Even through it was in statistics, where such things are usually tolerated, I felt it was worth putting it right. It was in a scenario such as this: The times an athlete takes to run

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Ask Uncle Colin: Some Messy Powers

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m told that $\frac{16^p \times 8^q}{4^{p+q}}=2^n$, and I need to find $n$ in terms of $p$ and $q$. How would I do that? $q$ Uppishly In $n$ Equation Hi, $q$UI$n$E1, and thanks for your message! There are several ways to approach this, as per always. Let’s start

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Barney’s triangles

A puzzle from @Barney_MT: Find angle BDC This turns out to be a bit more demanding than I expected. There are spoilers below the line, showing a solution that took rather more time and space than the final polished version does. Spoilers below the line! Adding in circles When I’ve

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Trig Inequality

Dear Uncle Colin, I have to find the values of $x$, between 0 and $\pi$ inclusive, where $2\cos(x) > \sec(x)$. My answer was $0 \le x \lt \piby 4$, but the answer also includes $\piby 2 \lt x \lt \frac{3}{4}\pi$. I don’t understand why! Stuck Evaluating Confusing And Nasty Trig

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A Trigonometric Puzzle

A puzzle that came to me via @realityminus3, who credits it to @manuelcj89: $\sin(A) + \sin(B) + \sin(C) = 0$ $\cos(A) + \cos(B) + \cos(C) = 0$ Find $\cos(A-B)$. There’s something pretty about that puzzle. Interestingly, my approach differed substantially from all of my Trusted And Respected Friends’. Spoilers below

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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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