One of the many people I look forward to seeing at big MathsJam is @pozorvlak, Miles in real life, whose name means ‘beware of the trams’ in Czech. When he’s not coding, pursuing the horrors of category theory, or juggling, he enjoys making his way up icy mountains.

That’s not my cup of tea, but he recently tweeted this article, about a carabiner that unexpectedly broke.

Now, I use carabiners for keeping keyrings together, so I don’t especially care about them breaking when someone does something as blithering as try to climb a rock face using them - but I was very interested in the format of the report.

  • It started by stating very clearly what had happened.

  • It followed that with an analysis of what had gone wrong.

  • It then asked how could similar things be prevented from happening in the future, and what could be learned.

I think that’s an excellent approach to take any time you get a maths question wrong - explain what you did, figure out precisely what went wrong, and suggest how to avoid making the mistake in future. Maybe there is something to be learnt from rock-climbing after all.