Correction: mathematical 12 days of Christmas

We've had to re-count our hundreds of gifts...
07 January 2020


Santa's sack


Chris Smith has a correction to a story in our Christmas 2019 show...

Chris - Now, I have to actually issue an apology. Just before Christmas, mathematician Amalia Thomas was on the programme, and she was looking at the song “a partridge in a pear tree” (The 12 Days of Christmas). And in that song, everyday you get a new present, plus of course you get all the presents you’ve had on the previous days, again. And so she challenged everyone to work out how many gifts she’d expect to get in total, by the time the twelfth day had been and gone. Now she solved it by giving you a formula that would calculate the number of gifts everyday. Have you heard this one Tim?

Tim - I have yes, but if you press me to tell you the answer I’m not going to remember!

Chris - Well, unfortunately alongside Amalia’s Christmas pudding, she’s had to eat a helping of humble pie, because she got so overwhelmed with excitement at how many gifts she was going to get for Christmas from her true love, that unfortunately although her formula was quite right, actually she added up the total wrong. And it should have been 364 presents, not the 288 that she stated. She forgot to add on the last day.

So thank you very much to keen eared listeners Jo and Robert, and Evan and Ian who got in touch to let us know. We have very careful listeners here on The Naked Scientists!


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