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The Big Internet Math-Off, Round 1 – James Tanton v Nira Chamberlain

Welcome to The Big Internet Math-Off! Over the next four weeks, 16 intrepid mathematicians are going to be sharing some of their favourite bits of maths in a series of head-to-head matches that will leave all of us numerically nourished and all but one of them wishing they’d spent more time trawling the arXiv.

The tournament starts today with our first match in round 1: James Tanton v Nira Chamberlain. They’ve each made a pitch for a fun bit of maths, which I’ve put below, and at the end of this post there’s a poll where you can vote for your favourite bit of maths.

If you know any more cool facts about either of the topics presented here, please write a comment below!

So, without further ado, let’s toot Gabriel’s Horn and start The Big Internet Math-Off! First up is James Tanton.

James Tanton – Infinite Cake, Anyone?

Photo of James Tanton

James Tanton is a prolific maths education thinker and the inventor of Exploding Dots. You can find him on Twitter at @JamesTanton where he regularly posts chin-scratching maths problems, or at

5 steps of cutting a triangular cake

Did you know it is possible to take out a piece of cake, cut and rearrange what remains, and create a whole new cake?

Do this over and over again and have an infinite supply of cake!

Here’s a fast version demonstration:

Here’s a slow version demonstration spelling out all the details.

Do you believe anything you see?

Nira Chamberlain – The Reynolds Equation in Formula 1

Photo of Nira ChamberlainDr Nira Chamberlain is an applied mathematician and maths outreach expert, and Vice President, Professional Affairs and Industry at the IMA. You can find him on Twitter at @ch_nira, or at

Nira has prepared a short video about how he applied the Reynolds equation to stop the wheels flying off a Formula 1 car.

So, which bit of maths has tickled your fancy the most? Vote now!

Round 1 match 1 - Tanton v Chamberlain

  • Nira Chamberlain with the Reynolds equation (59%, 203 Votes)
  • James Tanton with infinite cake (41%, 144 Votes)

Total Voters: 347

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The poll closes at 9am BST on the 3rd. Whoever wins the most votes will get the chance to tell us about more fun maths in round 2.

Come back tomorrow for our second match in round 1, pitting Samuel Hansen against Paul Taylor, or check out the announcement post for your follow-along wall chart!

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