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Mind Games: 6 Nimmt!

6 Nimmt! box

In this series of posts, Katie will be going on about some of her favourite board games and card games, and some of the interesting mathematics to be found there. If you’d like the chance to play a mathematical board game, why not find or start a Maths Arcade at university, or join your local MathsJam.

6 Nimmt! (German: Take 6!) is a card-based game which involves a hand of numbered cards, each also containing a number of cow heads. The cards are played in rounds, and during each round everyone chooses a card to play, they’re played in order, and you may find yourself having to take cards. The aim of the game is to end with the fewest cow heads.

EE = maths × sums²

EE Stills-10

Countdown number-nerd Lovely Rachel Riley has appeared in the latest advert for mobile phone agglomerate EE, alongside massive film node Kevin Bacon.

In the advert, Riley is unable to work out how anyone could not be enticed by the high mobile internet speeds (50% faster, apparently) offered by the company who are paying her to not be able to do so, and this is illustrated by a whole board full of equations and numbers which don’t seem to come to anything. Or do they?

Rodents of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist

A man in London claims to have found a rat ‘the size of a small child’, near a children’s play area in Hackney, London. Alongside a photograph of gas engineer Tony Smith proudly displaying the gigantic creature held in the jaws of a litter picking stick, some news outlets have reported the claim that the rat was “about four foot long”.

Photograph: Tony Smith/SWNS

Photograph: Tony Smith/SWNS

Luckily, mathematicians are here to save the day! Firstly, there’s no way it’s four feet long, as this rigorous analysis shows – estimating the height of the man as 180cm, and using the respective lengths of two of his visible fingers and the width of the litter picker at each end to estimate the effect of perspective:

Furthermore, several other people have successfully managed to recreate the effect of holding something relatively small up in a photo, putting it nearer the camera, and making it look much bigger, including The Guardian’s new formats editor Martin Belam, and in one brilliant case, an employee of Hackney council:

The message to the maths outreach community is that if we try really, really hard, we should eventually be able to get people to understand the thing where closer objects look bigger, although it may take more staring at model cows and pointing at cows out the window than was previously hoped.

More Information

Giant rat ‘the size of a small child’ found near Hackney playground, in the London Evening Standard

How to fake a giant rat (and why you shouldn’t trust pictures on the internet), on The Guardian

Hackney council made a wonderful response to that ‘rat as big as a 4-year-old’ story, at The Poke