I refer to the cover story 'Maths problem' (NCE 16 January). I would humbly suggest that the answer given to Question 2 is incorrect. The tension in rope at X is 42N; tension in rope at Y = 56N, the opposite way round from the published answer.
I confirmed this not by checking my mathematics, but by applying basic engineering principles and taking moments about the centroid.
Engineering is not simply about getting the right numbers, but understanding the basic principles.
Like Antony Oliver, I have struggled with maths, but only when taught as an academic subject. I have successfully designed structures using maths as well as computer models. Even though I am unable to answer questions 1 or 3, I was able to derive the correct answer to Question 2.
Perhaps we should worry less about mathematical theory and concentrate more on its practice?
Saul Huck (G), Conwy, North Wales saul. huck@conwy. gov. uk
Editor's note: Apologies. In the answer to Question 2 last week the forces at X and Y were indeed transposed.