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Alex Bellos – The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book

The Language Lover's Puzzle Book - front cover image

If you’re a fan of maths (which we assume you are, if you’re reading a maths blog), you might be familiar with Alex Bellos from his excellent popular maths books, including Alex’s Adventures in Numberland and the follow-up Alex Through The Looking Glass; you might also enjoy his more recent forays into puzzle books, including Can You Solve My Problems, and Japanese logic puzzle collection Puzzle Ninja, as well as his regular Monday puzzle column in The Guardian.

For his latest book, The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book, Alex has focused on language puzzles, largely drawn from the linguistic equivalent of Maths Olympiads (which he’s gotten really into lately). It’s a hefty volume split into cleverly collected sections on different aspects of language – including how languages are constructed, how words are pronounced, and as you might expect, the origins of how language is used to communicate numbers.

Podcasting about: Odds and Evenings Podcast

In this series of posts, we’ll be featuring mathematical podcasts from all over the internet, by speaking to the creators of the podcast and asking them about what they do.

We spoke to Alaric Stephen, maths teacher and one of the two hosts of the Odds and Evenings podcast, along with Alex Mayall.

A paper version of the Seven Triples puzzle

Last year I wrote about a 3D-printed puzzle I’d designed, called Seven Triples.

At work we want to use this puzzle during an A-Level enrichment day, which means we need about twenty copies of it. I 3D-printed four copies over the course of a couple of weeks, in amongst other jobs, and I don’t have the patience to do any more. So, I’ve made a 2D version that we can print and cut out much more quickly.

Triangles arranged in rows. Each triangle is filled with one of seven patterns. There are white, yellow and magenta triangles.

Summer Maths Puzzles from the Isaac Newton Institute

Summer Maths Puzzles website graphic

There are a collection of 23 maths-based puzzles appearing at a rate of one-per-weekday through August over at the Isaac Newton Institute. Their website explains “They won’t require sophisticated maths to solve, but equally they won’t be easy. Discussing your ideas might help.”

For example, here is the teaser puzzle, £8.19:

Two players play a game.
  • They each start with an unlimited number of coins of denominations: 1p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p and 100p.
  • They take it in turns putting coins into a pot one at a time.
  • The winner is the person who places the final coin into the pot reaching the target total of £8.19.
  • A player automatically loses if they exceed the target total.
Given that they are both perfect logicians and strategists, who wins?

Answers will be revealed at the end of the month, and you are invited to submit your answers for a chance to be named as a person or group who submitted one of the first few correct answers.

At the time of writing, there are 6 puzzles still to be revealed, and 17 puzzles are live. Check out the Summer Maths Puzzles website, or search Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for #SummerMathsPuzzles.

Happy puzzling!

Review: Geometry Snacks, by Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni

Geometry Snacks cover

Exams have a nasty habit of sucking the joy out of a subject. My interest in proper literature was dulled by A-Level English, and I celebrated my way out of several GCSE papers – in subjects I’d picked because I enjoyed them – saying “I’ll never have to do that again.”

Geometry is a topic that generally suffers badly from this – but fortunately, Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni’s Geometry Snacks is here to set that right.

Perplex – OU & UKMT puzzle app

Perplex main title screen

The Open University and UK Mathematics Trust have teamed up to launch Perplex, a mobile app containing mathematical puzzles and games. It’s available for iPhone and Android, and can also be played directly on their website.