This blog is about Simon, a young gifted mathematician and programmer, who had to move from Amsterdam to Antwerp to be able to study at the level that fits his talent, i.e. homeschool. Visit https://simontiger.com
Here is a fun math trick! Simon and Neva have made a 8 x 8 cm square (with an area of 64 cm²) and cut it into four pieces, turning the square into a puzzle. Using the same four pieces, they built a 5 x 13 cm rectangle. But wait a minute! 5 x 13 equals 65, so the area of the rectangle is one cm² larger than that of the square!
They also made a similar puzzle using bigger pieces. A 13 x 13 = 169 cm² square turned into a 8 x 21 = 168 cm² rectangle! So now the area of the rectangle is one cm² smaller than that of the square! What’s gong on?
You have probably recognized the numbers in this trick: 5, 8, 13, 21… Those are Fibonacci numbers! Simon explains, that with Fibonacci numbers, the effect of the rectangle area being greater or smaller than the square area is alternating. Fibonacci have a converging ration to φ (Phi), but not φ. The pieces only look like they are golden ratio bigger/ smaller. In reality, there is a little gap between the pieces in the first rectangle and a little overlap in the second.
Simon has been inspired by Mathologer to build this.
Simon shares his strategy to win a 2048 game. He has also worked out a general formula of what a maximum tile can be in any grid. For a 4 x 4 grid classic 2048 grid that maximum is 2^17 or 131072!
“It’s a lovely coincidence that there are 17 particles known in the Standard Model of particle physics, and 2^17 is also the maximum value tile in 2048. And so LHC 2048 actually exists!” Simon shouted after we had finished filming. Ten minutes later, walking outside, he calculated that when playing simplest version of 2048, the game of 4 on a 2 x 2 grid, the probability of winning (getting 4) is 19% if you do nothing, 54% if you make one move and 27 % if you make two moves. He also proved that in the game of 4, you win with the maximum of two moves.
Also known as the Book-Stacking Problem. Simon had tried to build this tower at the Fries Museum where we visited a huge Escher exhibition (to the annoyance of the museum staff, to whom I had to explain that it was a serious math experiment and not just a kid dropping bricks), but it only worked with 4 blocks (possibly because the blocks were made of foam and weren’t rigid enough). He tried to stack the blocks on top of one another, shifting every next block first by one eighth, then by one sixth, next by one fourth, and next by one half – in the end, the top block would no longer be positioned above the bottom block.
He repeated the experiment at home, first doing some calculations and then using more rigid wooden blocks and managed to stack a tower of 6 blocks! (The top block still overlapped the bottom one by a bit though) :
Simon made a measuring tool to check the diameter of round objects: by wrapping the strip around them, he reads the Pi times the centimeters value, which basically gives him the diameter (as the circumference equals Pi times the diameter).
And here he is, measuring the diameters of Neva’s and Dad’s necks:
And he showed me this beautiful trick of two rows adding up to equal numbers and their squares adding up to equal numbers. And the two rows below? Even their cubes!
Now, can you come up with two rows in which also the fourth powers add up to equal sums?
Simon learned this trick from Matt Parker: you should pick numbers up to n-1, where n is the next power of 2. In this case, n would be 2 to the fifth power and that is 32, so we pick numbers up to 31. Then we write them down in two rows in such a way that the top row only has numbers whose binary expressions have an even number of ones and the bottom row – only odd number of ones.
Simon also came up with an interesting fact about the trick using a pattern of “buckets” turned in opposite directions: