Wrong, But Useful: Episode 62

In this month’s episode of Wrong, But Useful, we’re joined by @ch_nira, who is Dr Nira Chamberlain in real life - and the World’s Most Interesting Mathematician.

  • Nira is a professional mathematical modeller, president-designate of the IMA, and a visiting fellow at Loughborough university.
  • We discuss Nira’s entry in the Aperiodical Maths-Off. I mention a simulation of the Schelling model.
  • Number of the podcast: 2, the percentage of the top rate of National Insurance.
  • The Big MathsJam Special and Big MathsJam itself.
  • Dave has a circle question that stumped his students. Nira turned the tables on some future teachers by making them simulate Aston Villa’s season. Ouch.
  • A thread from @creeepyjoe about communication and collaboration – with an insight into Nira’s Mathematics Attack Room. Colin mentions the German €20 note, but meant the old DM10 note.
  • @fenneklyra’s Guess Who questions: “White hair OR red hair OR glasses? Yes: Red hair or hat? No: Blond or hat? Then there are only 6 left of which you can make out the next question yourselves”
  • @stecks was on @myfavethm to talk about the fold-and-cut theorem.
  • Nira points to a tweet from @probabilityfact pointing out that 87% of Americans can be identified by the combination of ZIP code, sex and birth date.
  • What’s the opposite of inside-out?
  • @fotsn have put out a new audiovisual offering called You Can’t Polish A Nurse Nerd.
  • Dave thanks Adam Atkinson for his help on percentages.
  • Puzzle feedback: gold stars for @schwartstack, @chrishazell and loyal antipodean listener Sam Steele, who each worked out $P(X=5) = \frac{1}{120}, P(X=4) = 0, P(X=3) = \frac{1}{12}, P(X=2) = \frac{1}{6}, P(X=1) = \frac{3}{8}, P(X=0) = \frac{11}{30}$.
  • This month’s puzzle: Dave is playing Keyforge, in which a deck consists of 36 cards: twelve from each of three distinct clans. There are 51 distinct cards available for each clan (repeats are allowed), and seven clans. The makers quote quadrillions of possible decks; is this plausible?


Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.


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