Colours are Math Too

The last couple of days have been dominated by the colours theme, that eventually ended up expressed in fractions (of how to mix the primary colours as in paints or the primary colours as in RGB light waves). In the artwork-like chart above Simon got all the shades by mixing the three primary colours. On the pictures with plastic cups he was trying to design a colour ‘genealogical tree’.

The tall beer glass has liquids of different density in it that don’t mix. He also experimented with different temperatures of water to see if the paints dissolve better in hot water. The straps of paper towel with colourful flames on them are the result of deconstructing felt pen inks. The next hypothesis (expressed here in fractions) that any colour can be created by simply adding up the necessary amount of the primary colours was experimentally tested as well. The last illustration is a scan of a text he wrote this morning (using nothing but his memory as resource) explaining how a human eye works and how the RGB light waves mix.

Kleuren mengen breukenRGB en grijstinten uitleg Mei 2016

We have also watched a cartoon about the Indigofera and why there is so little blue in organic substances, experimented with trying to see infrared light (through a mobile phone camera) and read about how tiny the visible spectrum is. Simon’s maths teacher told him about how the same three RGB colours make up the three quarks in a proton!




Chinese meanings

Simon didn’t finish his long list of Chinese vehicles last night and resumed working on it first thing this morning. He typed it himself first in pinyin (which then turns into characters on the screen) and then in English. He used an iPad app as reference. This is not the first time he does something like this, but I noticed today that he began recognizing some of the individual characters making up a name of a vehicle. Such as the characters “bread bun” 面包 or for “car”车. He thought it was very funny that together they make “van”, a car that looks like a bun. he also recognized the characters “big” and “small” that the words “bus”大客车  and “automobile”小汽车 begin with respectively.

This is how many 2D shapes a 3D shape corner, a vertice or this amount of degrees has.

This entry can be viewed as an extensive English practice: Simon wrote both the title and the entry (I have corrected one sentence) and recorded an English-language video (you’ll notice he had a problem with the word “vertice” 🙂 

  • Equilateral triangle
  • Square
  • Regular pentagon
  • Regular hexagon

Make the following angles using the shapes above:

  • 60 degrees
  • 90 degrees
  • 108 degrees
  • 120 degrees
  • 180 degrees: tetrahedron
  • 216 degrees
  • 240 degrees: octahedron
  • 270 degrees: cube
  • 300 degrees: icosahedron
  • 324 degrees: dodecahedron
  • 360 degrees

You can watch this video for see this.


Simon’s Rhombi Numberline

Simon has made a system that explains how to construct bigger 3D-objects using smaller ones. For example, in the first video he constructs Cuboctahedron using:

  • cube (6 squares)
  • octahedron (8 triangles)

and a Rhombicubeoctahedron by adding 12 squares.

In the next video things are getting more complicated as Simon shows how to construct a Rhombicosidodecahedron from:

  • cube (6 squares)
  • cube (24 squares)
  • dodecahedron (12 pentagons)
  • icosahedron (20 triangles)

but why is 1 cube with 6 squares and 1 with 24 squares?

Because all cubes are different sizes.

  1. 4 squares became a big square.
  2. The cubes are different sizes because 4 cubes became a big cube

The real thing



Simon was very excited today about his first real chemistry workshop. He has set a few experiments this week (including yesterday at his gifted club), but today it was finally serious business. His teacher, a retired chemist and father of a good friend of mine, comes all the way from Holland once a month. This month’s topic was “salts” and resulted in a few beautiful and not so beautiful colours. We also learned one shouldn’t drink copper, even though they did exactly that in the times of Francois Rabelais.

Water Xylophone

This video shows Simon play the Happy Birthday tune on his self-made “water xylophone”.  In the following video you can see him actually make the xylophone meticulously checking every tone. He had tried virtually every pot and bottle out of our kitchen cupboard and glass recycling container until he found the full octave.

And here Simon says a few words about music, a magic language he understands:

Formulas to save the fingers


Simon wrote these two “formulas” to explain how time (T1) works in one second (S2) of fast and slow motion film. S1 is “sneller” (Dutch for “faster”) T2 is “trager” (Dutch for “slower”). Hence one second of fast motion film shown at normal speed is going to take longer than one second and one second of slow motion film shown at normal speed is going to take less than one second.

Simon says that it’s easier for him to write things down this way instead of with sentences because otherwise “his fingers get tired of writing”.

Rendezvous with Jupiter


Tonight was a big night: Simon’s first visit to a real observatory. He had not really been doing any astronomy in the past few months so we were wondering how much of the gigabytes on stars and planets he once stored in his operational memory actually remained there. It took him several minutes to dig out the correct file (on the Galilean moons), but after that initial hesitation when you would think he couldn’t even recall the names of the moons he suddenly blurted out what their sizes were as compared to Mars and Mercury.

This morning he confessed he had always been afraid of planetariums because he’d seen one actually take off into open space in a TV cartoon. Held him tight for most of the initial lecture at the planetarium tonight. The telescopes followed. I believe seeing Jupiter and its four largest moons, as well as our own Moon up close, made a lasting impression on him. We didn’t stay to see the Ring Nebula, it was getting too late.