The Flying Colours Maths Blog: Latest posts

Ask Uncle Colin: Consecutiveness

Dear Uncle Colin, Can there be two or more consecutive irrational numbers? - Between A Number And Consecutive… Huh? Hi, BANACH, and thanks for your message! We… have a problem here. When you’re dealing with integers, consecutive is really neatly defined: every number has a single successor, a number that’s

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Google’s Keypad

One of the many lovely things about Big MathsJam is that I’ve found My People - I’ve made several very dear friends there, introduced others to the circle, and get to stay in touch with other maths fans through the year. It’s golden. Adam Atkinson is one of those dear

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Ask Uncle Colin: A Trigonometric Puzzle

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m given that $0 \le x \lt 180^o$, and that $\cos(x) + \sin(x) = \frac{1}{2}$. I have to find $p$ and $q$ such that $\tan(x) = -\frac{p + \sqrt{q}}{3}$. Where do I even start? - Some Identity Needing Evaluation Hi, SINE, and thanks for your message! There

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The Dictionary of Mathematical Eponymy: The Fermat Cubic

So far in the Dictionary of Mathematical Eponymy, I’ve not picked anyone properly famous. I mean, if you’re a keen recreational mathematician, you’ll have heard of Collatz or Banach; a serious mathematician might know about Daubechies, and a chess enthusiast would conceivably have come across Elo. But everyone has heard

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Ask Uncle Colin: Powers and squares

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m told that $5\times 2^x + 1$ (with $x$ a non-negative integer) is a square number - how do I find $x$? - A Baffling Equation. Logs? Hi, ABEL, and thanks for your message! We’re looking for a square number - let’s call it $y^2$ - that’s

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A strange number base

Aaaages ago, @vingaints tweeted: This is pretty wild. It feels like what the Basis Representation Theorem is for Integers but for Rational Numbers. Hmm - trying to prove it now. Feels like a tough one. Need to work some examples! — Ving Aints (@vingAints) September 18, 2018 In

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Ask Uncle Colin: The Probability of Winning

Dear Uncle Colin, Suppose Team 1 beats Team 2 by a score of 10-7, and Team 2 beats Team 3 by a score of 10-4. How would we predict the score of a match between Team 1 and Team 3? - Make A Team Calculation Happen Hi, MATCH, and thanks

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Cards and lattices

“That looks straightforward,” I thought. “I’ll keep on looking at this geometry puzzle.” Nut-uh. A standard pack of 52 cards is shuffled. The cards are turned over one at a time, and you guess whether each will be red or black. How many correct guesses do you expect to make?

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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

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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

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