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Two circles of equal size intersect and the centre of each circle is on the circumference of the other. What is the area of the intersection? Now imagine that the diagram represents two spheres of equal volume with the centre of each sphere on the surface of the other. What is the volume of intersection?

Power Up

Show without recourse to any calculating aid that 7^{1/2} + 7^{1/3} + 7^{1/4} < 7 and 4^{1/2} + 4^{1/3} + 4^{1/4} > 4 . Sketch the graph of f(x) = x^{1/2} + x^{1/3} + x^{1/4} -x

Fractional Calculus I

You can differentiate and integrate n times but what if n is not a whole number? This generalisation of calculus was introduced and discussed on askNRICH by some school students.

Scientific Curves

Age 16 to 18
Challenge Level


Curve sketching is an essential art in the application of mathematics to science. A good sketch of a curve does not need to be accurately plotted to scale, but will encode all of the key information about the curve: turning points, maximum or minimum values, asymptotes, roots and a sense of the scale of the function.

Sketch $V(r)$ against $r$ for each of these tricky curves, treating $a, b$ and $c$ as unknown constants in each case. As you make your plots, ask yourself: do different shapes of curve emerge for different ranges of the constants, or will the graphs look similar (i.e. same numbers of turning points, regions etc.) for the various choices?

1. An approximation for the potential energy of a system of two atoms separated by a distance $r$

$$V(r) = a\left[\left(\frac{b}{r}\right)^{12}-\left(\frac{b}{r}\right)^6\right]$$

2. A radial probability density function for an electron orbit
$$V(r) = ar^2e^{-\frac{r}{b}}$$

3. Potential energy for the vibrational modes of ammonium