In this series of articles, I’m writing about mathematical questions we don’t know the answer to – which haven’t yet been proven or disproven. This edition is a topical one, for Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday, celebrated in the UK this year on 9th February).
Some of the best mathematical teasers are those which originate in a real-world problem – although the problem for pure mathematicians is that that happens much less often than it does for applied mathematicians, who are presented with interesting real-world problems all the time. That’s why it’s especially nice when a more pure one pops up, and that’s exactly what happened to mathematician Jacob E Goodman, back in 1975.
My good friend David Cushing popped on Facebook messenger to ask me a question:
I did tweet it, and I got a lot of good responses. Before I tell you about those, I’ll quickly list the books we mentioned above, that of course a keen 13-year-old already has.
COMPETITION DEADLINE EXTENDED – SEE BELOW!
To celebrate the year end, as well as our daily Advent Calendar posts, we’re also running a little competition – last year we did a pun competition, and this year it’s something a bit more crafty – well, it’s a knitting competition in which the knitting is optional.
Everyone enjoys counting down to Christmas so much, that it seems to happen earlier and earlier each year. Well, sticking to the standard format of counting from 1st December down to 25th using a specially prepared calendar, we present the Aperiodical’s 2015 Advent Calendar, featuring behind each door not a small disappointing piece of chocolate, but a randomly chosen nugget of mathematical goodness for your enjoyment.
From YouTube videos to websites cataloguing number sequences, we’ve got a nice surprise for you each day. We’ll be adding each door as a post on the site, plus you can find them all collected together below, along with interesting number facts. Enjoy!
I notice that our post queue is filling up with interesting mathematical apps, so I thought I’d deal with them all in one big roundup post. Read on for a mix of mathematical games, apps to help with calculations, and some frankly awful art.
One of the many jobs we’re gradually getting round to in our new flat is that of tiling a small section of the kitchen surface, which for some reason was left blank by the original builders and all intervening owners. And what better thing to tile it with than binary numbers?
My wife’s grandmother is a fearsome character. She’s in her nineties but still has all her wits about her. In fact, she’s got more than her fair share of wits. Whenever we visit her, she hits me with a barrage of questions and puzzles collected from the last several decades of TV quiz shows and newspaper games pages. My worth as a grandson-in-law is directly proportional to how many answers I get right.
One of her favourite modes of attack is the “30 Second Challenge” from the Daily Mail. It looks like this:
You start with the number on the left, then follow the instructions reading right until you get to the answer at the end. It’s one of Grandma’s favourites because it’s very hard to do in your head when she’s just reading it out!
I decided it would be a fun Sunday morning mental excursion to make a random 30 second challenge generator.