Month: May 2020

Eratosthenes Measures the Earth

Last time we looked at a couple questions about proving the earth is round, which led into questions about how Eratosthenes measured the earth (though that in itself did not prove the earth is not flat). Let’s look at two questions about that project itself.

Proving the Earth is Round … or Not

Can you use mathematics to prove that the earth is round? That’s a question we get from time to time, sometimes from people who want to prove the earth is flat, sometimes from people who want to convince their friends otherwise, and sometimes just from students. Let’s think about it.

Impossible? Try anyway!

(An archive question of the week) Here’s a little problem with some big lessons for problem solving.

Bayes and Virus Testing

News about testing for viruses has reminded me of a couple problems that I linked to some time ago, but never dealt with directly. The question is, given data such as the result of a (fallible) blood or swab test, how sure can we be of the results? The answer is sometimes surprising.

Invariants for a State Machine

(A new question of the week) Although we focus in this blog on questions at early college level and below, we do get questions at higher levels. This one deals with finding an invariant for a finite state machine, with possible movements of a robot as the example.