The Flying Colours Maths Blog: Latest posts

Wrong, But Useful: Episode 67

In this month's Wrong, But Useful, we're joined by @sheena2907, who is Sheena in real life. We discuss: Sheena's Number of the Podcast: 3,212 Board Games - Number Fluxx, Prime Climb Magic: The Gathering is undecidable! Oxbridge Time surprises The oddness of the Fibonacci sequence The heights of women Big

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: a fractional power

Dear Uncle Colin, How would you work out $\br{\frac{4}{5}}^{10}$ in your head? - Probability Estimation Needed, Relic Of Slide-rule Era Hi, PENROSE, and thanks for your message! That’s really two questions: how I would do it, and how the Mathematical Ninja would do it. Me Me, I’d probably use the

Read More

A triangle puzzle

Like everyone else on Twitter, I’m a sucker for a nice-looking question, and @cshearer41 is a reliable source of such things. I particularly liked this one: There are two equilateral triangles inside this semicircle. What’s the area of the larger one? — Catriona Shearer (@Cshearer41) November 7, 2018 Straight

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: an irrational power

Dear Uncle Colin, How would you work out something like $(-1)^\pi$? Doesn’t Everyone Miss Out Irrational Values Reckoning Exponents? Hi, DEMOIVRE, and thanks for your message! In the words of the politician: difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. One the one hand there is one answer that seems sensible - but on

Read More

Dictionary of Mathematical Eponymy: Elo ratings

As I write this, classical chess’s top two players are Magnus Carlsen of Norway (rated 2835) and the USA’s Fabiano Caruana, who has a rating of 2832. Very close! But what do the rankings mean? FIDE1 uses the Elo rating system, a methodical - and mathematical - system for distilling

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: Family

Dear Uncle Colin, In a culture where people have children until they have a daughter and then stop, what proportion will be daughters? * Families Retain Extra Girls Evidently Hi, FREGE, and thanks for your message1 ! Spoiler alert: it’s a half. There are several ways to see this, and

Read More

On Estimating

An exam question was recently brought to my attention: students were asked to estimate $31.28^2$. Whoosh “$31^2 = 961$ and $31.5^2 = 992.25$, so it’s about 978.” “Very good, sensei, but no marks. Uhuhuh, put that down - you need to take it up with the exam board, not with

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: The Polar Express(ion)

Dear Uncle Colin, I have the polar equation $\theta = k$, and I want to turn it into rectangular coordinates. I worked it out to be the line $y = x \tan(k)$, but the solution says it’s only a half-line. Why is that? Perplexed Over Line And Radius Hi, POLAR,

Read More

Wrong, But Useful: Episode 66

In this month’s episode of Wrong, But Useful, we’re joined by @cshearer41, who is Catriona Shearer in real life. We discuss: LaTeX (time to fight again) Mathematical sign language More interesting ‘bad graphs’ than the obvious howlers you usually see on the internet. Via @peterrowlett: Some people think statistics has

Read More

The Mathematical Ninja and $\arctan(0.4)$

It took the Mathematical Ninja a little longer than normal; the student had managed to rummage around in her bag and lay a finger on the calculator before simultaneously feeling her arm pulled away by a lasso and hearing "0.3805. Or, as a one-off, since the question is asking for

Read More

Sign up for the Sum Comfort newsletter and get a free e-book of mathematical quotations.

No spam ever, obviously.

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.

On twitter