Posted in ask uncle colin

Dear Uncle Colin, In reading Sir Dermot Turing’s XY&Z, he states that the number of species of cycle is 101 - and after a bit of thought, I figured out that that’s the number of partitions of the number 13. However, I couldn’t work out how to get 101! Can

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Posted in ninja maths

“Sensei, why have you covered the entire Earth in an area-preserving wrap?” “It’s all @colinthemathmo's doing.” “I’m surprised you’re doing it in hardware rather than working it out in your head.” “Oh, $\frac{1000}{\sqrt{\pi}}$? That’s trivial.” “But of course it is.” “I mean, $\frac{1}{\pi}$ is pretty close to $\sqrt{1}{\frac{10}}$, which is

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Posted in ask uncle colin

Dear Uncle Colin, I have a probability question that involves a weird place where every family has three children, and every child is either a girl or a boy. 50-50. Independent of each other. If I take a random family, and choose at random one of the children, I have

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Posted in dome

I am a big fan of polyhedra. I’ve raved elsewhere about the icosidodecahedron, and even something as dull as a cube is something I can get behind. And so, naturally, I wondered: is there a periodic table of polyhedra? And the answer is “not exactly”. But there’s something pretty close

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Posted in ask uncle colin

Dear Uncle Colin, I can derive the timeless SUVAT equation $v^2 = u^2 + 2as$, but I can’t intuitively see where it comes from. Any clues? - Everyone Needs Explanations, Really Get Yours Hi, ENERGY, and thanks for your message! This is one that I never really picked up on

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Posted in game theory

Many moons ago, I looked into the game theory of Minesweeper, and - in particular, what you should do in this situation: I think I got my probabilities wrong there, and want to put that right. If you want to work out the correct move (and associated probabilities), you should

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Posted in ask uncle colin

Dear Uncle Colin, I have the parametric equations $x = (t+1)^2$ and $y = \frac{1}{2}t^3 + 3$ and the lines $y = 16 - x$ and $x=1$. I need to find the area enclosed by the curve, these two lines and the $x$-axis, but my answer doesn’t agree with the

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Posted in ninja maths

"The Mathematical Ninja is currently on sabbatical. Leave a message after the tone... or else!" Oh dear! How are we going to figure out $e^e$ now? Let alone $e^{-\frac{1}{e}}$? We'll just have to roll up our sleeves and get our thinking hats on, that's all. OK, $e^e$ First of all,

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Posted in podcasts

In the 71st episode of Wrong, But Useful, we’re joined by @nookiedv, who is Anouk de Vos in real life. We discuss: Number of the podcast: 1729, a fairly uninteresting number. Sums of cubes updates: 33 42 3 is also interesting as there are two solutions but it’s unknown if

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Posted in ask uncle colin

Dear Uncle Colin, I just solved $2\cos^2(4x)=1$ between 0 and $2\pi$ and found four solutions: $\frac{1}{16}\pi$, $\frac{3}{16}\pi$, $\frac{5}{16}\pi$ and $\frac{7}{16}\pi$. The answer scheme says there are sixteen solutions! Where have I gone wrong? Have You Perhaps A Trig Identity Answer? Hi, HYPATIA, and thanks for your message! Looking at your

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