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Stupid-looking maths question does the rounds, isn’t stupid

You may by now have seen the image below knocking around on Twitter and other social medias, in which a maths question appears to be almost a parody of itself:

An orchestra of 120 players takes 40 minutes to play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. How long would it take for 60 players to play the Symphony? Let P be the number of players and T the time playing.

Well, once you’re done laughing, we’ve done some investigative journalism and found the origin of this question. And it turns out it’s quite nice!

The question is from a worksheet developed by maths teacher Claire Longmoor (who is, based on current evidence, brilliant) ten years ago. Claire put together a selection of example questions with relationships in direct and inverse proportion, and deliberately included the orchestra question as an example of something where it doesn’t work that way. It’s a nice activity to help reinforce the difference, and in context the question works nicely.

Other examples on the sheet include a bricklaying example with creditably diverse gender representation, a car with terrifyingly low fuel efficiency, good cow names and a delightful insight into the bygone world of fruit picking.

Matt Parker’s Fractal Christmas Tree

Stand-up Mathematician and all-round maths lover Matt Parker has been busy again, and he’s made a set of free worksheets for teachers (and, of course, interested non-teachers) to assemble paper nets of 3D fractals, including a Menger sponge and Sierpinski tetrahedron (which I’ve just learned is also called a tetrix).

There’s also a sheet for making a delightfully festive/mathematical fractal Christmas tree, with a Menger sponge base, Sierpinski branches and a Koch Snowflake star on top. Presumably those interested can make Mandelbulb ornaments and Cantor Set tinsel to hang on it. Don’t ask me how that would work.

The worksheets can be downloaded from Matt’s Think Maths website.

Anyone who successfully builds the whole thing: send us a photo and we’ll post it here. Jokes about fractals taking a while to cut out/paint in the comments.