This article for pupils and teachers looks at a number that even the great mathematician, Pythagoras, found terrifying.
A ribbon is nailed down with a small amount of slack. What is the largest cube that can pass under the ribbon ?
The area of a square inscribed in a circle with a unit radius is, satisfyingly, 2. What is the area of a regular hexagon inscribed in a circle with a unit radius?
Three squares are drawn on the sides of a triangle ABC. Their areas are respectively 18 000, 20 000 and 26 000 square centimetres. If the outer vertices of the squares are joined, three more. . . .
Can you minimise the amount of wood needed to build the roof of my garden shed?
Pythagoras of Samos was a Greek philosopher who lived from about 580 BC to about 500 BC. Find out about the important developments he made in mathematics, astronomy, and the theory of music.
If a ball is rolled into the corner of a room how far is its centre from the corner?
Describe how to construct three circles which have areas in the ratio 1:2:3.
Three circular medallions fit in a rectangular box. Can you find the radius of the largest one?
Read all about Pythagoras' mathematical discoveries in this article written for students.
The sides of a triangle are 25, 39 and 40 units of length. Find the diameter of the circumscribed circle.
Six circular discs are packed in different-shaped boxes so that the discs touch their neighbours and the sides of the box. Can you put the boxes in order according to the areas of their bases?
Liethagoras, Pythagoras' cousin (!), was jealous of Pythagoras and came up with his own theorem. Read this article to find out why other mathematicians laughed at him.
It is obvious that we can fit four circles of diameter 1 unit in a square of side 2 without overlapping. What is the smallest square into which we can fit 3 circles of diameter 1 unit?
Can you find a relationship between the area of the crescents and the area of the triangle?
What remainders do you get when square numbers are divided by 4?
Can you make a hypothesis to explain these ancient numbers?
If the altitude of an isosceles triangle is 8 units and the perimeter of the triangle is 32 units.... What is the area of the triangle?
Draw two circles, each of radius 1 unit, so that each circle goes through the centre of the other one. What is the area of the overlap?
The largest square which fits into a circle is ABCD and EFGH is a square with G and H on the line CD and E and F on the circumference of the circle. Show that AB = 5EF. Similarly the largest. . . .
A description of some experiments in which you can make discoveries about triangles.
Which has the greatest area, a circle or a square, inscribed in an isosceles right angle triangle?
A circle touches the lines OA, OB and AB where OA and OB are perpendicular. Show that the diameter of the circle is equal to the perimeter of the triangle
If the hypotenuse (base) length is 100cm and if an extra line splits the base into 36cm and 64cm parts, what were the side lengths for the original right-angled triangle?
A floor is covered by a tessellation of equilateral triangles, each having three equal arcs inside it. What proportion of the area of the tessellation is shaded?
A dot starts at the point (1,0) and turns anticlockwise. Can you estimate the height of the dot after it has turned through 45 degrees? Can you calculate its height?
A napkin is folded so that a corner coincides with the midpoint of an opposite edge . Investigate the three triangles formed .
Cut off three right angled isosceles triangles to produce a pentagon. With two lines, cut the pentagon into three parts which can be rearranged into another square.
The area of a regular pentagon looks about twice as a big as the pentangle star drawn within it. Is it?
Prove that a triangle with sides of length 5, 5 and 6 has the same area as a triangle with sides of length 5, 5 and 8. Find other pairs of non-congruent isosceles triangles which have equal areas.
ABCDEFGH is a 3 by 3 by 3 cube. Point P is 1/3 along AB (that is AP : PB = 1 : 2), point Q is 1/3 along GH and point R is 1/3 along ED. What is the area of the triangle PQR?
Prove that the shaded area of the semicircle is equal to the area of the inner circle.
The ten arcs forming the edges of the "holly leaf" are all arcs of circles of radius 1 cm. Find the length of the perimeter of the holly leaf and the area of its surface.
Chris is enjoying a swim but needs to get back for lunch. If she can swim at 3 m/s and run at 7m/sec, how far along the bank should she land in order to get back as quickly as possible?
Find the sides of an equilateral triangle ABC where a trapezium BCPQ is drawn with BP=CQ=2 , PQ=1 and AP+AQ=sqrt7 . Note: there are 2 possible interpretations.
A fire-fighter needs to fill a bucket of water from the river and take it to a fire. What is the best point on the river bank for the fire-fighter to fill the bucket ?.
ABC and DEF are equilateral triangles of side 3 and 4 respectively. Construct an equilateral triangle whose area is the sum of the area of ABC and DEF.
Is the sum of the squares of two opposite sloping edges of a rectangular based pyramid equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sloping edges?
A rectangular field has two posts with a ring on top of each post. There are two quarrelsome goats and plenty of ropes which you can tie to their collars. How can you secure them so they can't. . . .
Four identical right angled triangles are drawn on the sides of a square. Two face out, two face in. Why do the four vertices marked with dots lie on one line?
Medieval stonemasons used a method to construct octagons using ruler and compasses... Is the octagon regular? Proof please.
The first of two articles on Pythagorean Triples which asks how many right angled triangles can you find with the lengths of each side exactly a whole number measurement. Try it!
Explain how the thirteen pieces making up the regular hexagon shown in the diagram can be re-assembled to form three smaller regular hexagons congruent to each other.
Take any rectangle ABCD such that AB > BC. The point P is on AB and Q is on CD. Show that there is exactly one position of P and Q such that APCQ is a rhombus.
What is the same and what is different about these circle questions? What connections can you make?
A square of area 40 square cms is inscribed in a semicircle. Find the area of the square that could be inscribed in a circle of the same radius.
Find the area of the annulus in terms of the length of the chord which is tangent to the inner circle.
Semicircles are drawn on the sides of a rectangle. Prove that the sum of the areas of the four crescents is equal to the area of the rectangle.
This is the second article on right-angled triangles whose edge lengths are whole numbers.
Two semi-circles (each of radius 1/2) touch each other, and a semi-circle of radius 1 touches both of them. Find the radius of the circle which touches all three semi-circles.