Browsing category modelling

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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An ex-straw-dinarily silly Fermi problem

Everybody sit down. Dominika has an important announcement. So…I have a confession to make. Despite the fact that I write maths comic strips, I’m actually a physicist. Pause for gasps of shock. Yes, terrible, I know. But physics in general has a little gem that I wish more people knew

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The inverse square law

The estimable Barney Maunder-Taylor asked at MathsJam: How come the inverse square law leads to elliptical orbits and equal area swept in equal time? I only know the answer to one of those questions. The differential equations for the inverse square laws work out to be: $\diffn{2}{r}{t} - r \left

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Scheduling a Scrabble tournament

Once upon a time, there was a Scrabble tournament. Sixteen of the county's greatest Scrabbleologists descended on the venue... only to find the organiser had lost the fixture list. What the organise could remember was this: there were five rounds, and each player played each of the others exactly once.

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Matrices and Google

Or, how the biggest company in the world is built on matrices. As with most Flying Colours Maths Blog articles, I don’t claim any kind of historical accuracy. The details are likely to be wrong, but I’m not one to let the truth get in the way of the story;

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The Names of the Isle of Portland

Portland, Oregon, is one of the places in the USA that takes great pride in its self-conscious kookiness -- you see bumper stickers saying 'Keep Portland Weird', just like you do in Asheville, North Carolina and Austin, Texas, and probably another dozen cities who, if they were people, would go

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Those medalling kids: knockout tournaments and who wins what?

(This piece is based on a paper I read recently... but I can't find a reference for it. If you know which paper I mean, please let me know and I'll update.) There's a reason tennis knockout draws are seeded. I'll get to why in a moment. But first, let's

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A question to which I don't know the answer: how to pick a parking space.

From time to time, I come across a problem that has me scratching my head. In a good way. I like brain-teasers. Sometimes I solve them, sometimes I don't. This is one that I haven't solved -- but I wanted to share the thought process that goes into modelling the

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