In response to huge demand, we filmed a series of Maths Inspiration for release on DVD. All these DVDs feature friends of Maths Gear and maths people we love!

This disc is all about mechanics and engineering.

*Ages 14-17*

**Designed to Thrill**John designs rollercoasters for a living, and reveals how maths has played a part in the design and construction of world famous rides like The Big One in Blackpool and The London Eye.

**Bending, Balls and Boomerangs**Hugh Hunt shows how maths can help to understand disallowed goals in football (remember Lampard in 2010?), the Dambusters bouncing bombs of World War Two and boomerangs.

Approximately 90 minutes.

You can also get the entire box set here for just £50. That's a saving of \(16.\overline{6}\%\).

## The Presenters

**John Roberts - Structural Engineer and Rollercoaster designer**

**Hugh Hunt - Cambridge Engineer and Boomerang Expert**

## What John and Hugh have to say about learning maths.

**John:**

**What did you think of maths when you were at school?**

It was always one of my “best” subjects probably because I found it reasonably easy, particularly in relation to some other more subjective courses.

**Which was your favourite bit of maths at school?**

I have always preferred those parts of maths which have a direct physical representation such as geometry and mechanics.

**Is there any maths that you don’t like?**For some reason I found calculus and integration / differentiation to be difficult to deal with (even though in my later career in engineering these topics are often significant).

**Has maths ever helped you get out of a difficult situation?**On a regular basis I use engineering calculations to deal with difficult design options. Rather than relying just on a subjective opinion, I like to justify choices on the basis of either technical or financial calculations.

**Has maths ever helped you win anything?**

I used to say that I never won anything – but many years ago I attended the opening ceremony for a new building in Manchester, and the guests were asked to “estimate” (on the spot) the number of cladding panels used on the façade of the building. Rather than just guess a figure, I did a quick calculation based on the floor areas and the storey heights and came up with an estimate that was within 1% of the correct answer. It was the only answer anywhere near correct (the other guest’s estimates varied from 10 times lower to 100 times higher!) and I won two tickets to hear Luciano Pavarotti and two other Italian tenors at a concert later that week – a wonderful evening.

**What did you do at university?**

I studied Civil & Structural Engineering at Sheffield University for a BEng (Hon) degree, and then I stayed on for a further 3 years at Sheffield to study for a PhD in structural engineering. It was a requirement for entry to this course that I had an A-level in Mathematics.

**What’s your favourite number?**I am very interested in physical shape ratios and I like the fact that both

*pi*(the ratio of a circumference of a circle to the diameter ) and

*phi*(the recurring ratio of the side lengths of a particular rectangle forming a square within it) are both irrational (non-repeating numbers).

**What do you like APART from maths?**Not sure if I would ever say I “like” maths – but I need it, use it and wouldn’t be without it.

**If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?**I have travelled the world for work, but nowhere beats England. Doesn’t everyone feel that about their home country? If I had to choose somewhere else I guess it would be the USA or somewhere in Scandinavia. I don’t really like hot weather (at least not all the time).

**If you could give one maths tip to a 15 year old, what would it be?**It’s not an “either / or” situation. You can be good at maths and good at other things as well. It’s not clever to say that you are hopeless at maths – it severely limits your ability to do many other interesting things.

**Hugh:**

**What did you think of maths when you were at school?**Loved it – especially the challenging stuff – intersection of ellipses and parabolas in parametric coordinates...

**Which was your favourite bit of maths at school?**Heavy algebra – the more convoluted the better. It was like doing a puzzle.

**Is there any maths that you don’t like?**Not a great fan of statistics – it gets complicated quickly (chi-square, student-t, etc) and I never got matrices until I could see why they were useful.

**Has maths ever helped you get out of a difficult situation?**I managed to get a life-insurance salesman off my back by plotting a graph of my calculations compared with his. He never came back.

**Has maths ever helped you win anything?**Yes, but we found two solutions to a puzzle that was meant only to have one. We entered our solution but it wasn’t the one they had! Missed out on £1000.

**What did you do at university?**Mechanical Engineering.

**What’s your favourite number?**1,954,862,971.2758463

or 27.

**What do you like APART from maths?**music, clocks, boomerangs, camping, cricket, toys, TV documentaries, cycling.

**If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?**Melbourne – but Cambridge is good!

**If you could give one maths tip to a 15 year old, what would it be?**“If in doubt, don’t multiply out”

x

^{2}y

^{2}=(x-y)(x+y)

I use it all the time. Don’t give up maths.

**What was the most unusual place you ever gave a maths talk?**In a pub, but then I met Matt, Steve and Helen.

**What’s your favourite maths-related song?**A round on Pythagoras’ Theorem.

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