Click the cover to order your copy!
Illustrated by Philip Reeve
This book was
published in 2003
by Scholastic Ltd
with a different cover

The Phantom X

Suitable for ages 10 upwards

QUESTION: How do you do sums when you don't know what the numbers are?

ANSWER: You need to learn the secrets of one of the most murderous bits of maths ever invented - algebra!

All will be revealed by the mysterious "The Phantom X", the undercover agent for Murderous Maths who is licenced to cancel. Then once you've discovered all about unknowns, factorisation, simplification, graphs, linear, quadratic and simultaneous equations, you'll be able to save the universe from the devastation threatened by the awesome ZERO PROOF.

You'll also find out why:

Oh - and of course you'll pick up a few mind boggling tricks to play on your friends along the way!

Don't forget to click the EXTRA links for more details that we didn't have room for in the books!


The Secret Weapon

The Phantom X sneaks out of the shadows to introduce himself and his awesome algebra. (all sing together now: "Dah dah DAHHHH!")

What is Algebra?

We learn about unknowns - in other words we see how letters can be used as numbers. We also see what happens when a stroppy caterpillar goes through a lawn mower. Mind you, it's even worse for the Evil Gollarks when their hyper-algebra steers their space craft into a meteor.

The Slaught-O-Mart Equations.

Grizelda the Grisly, Urgum the Axeman and Mungoid The Jungoid have all popped out to do some shopping. How can Thag the Mathematician use equations to discover how many bows, arrows, cannons and cannonballs they have bought?

Meanwhile Colonel Cancel doesn't understand brackets and tries to share two pairs of pants between 13 soldiers. It's no wonder that Hunjah the Headless ends up disguising himself as a dungheap.

This is such a brilliant chapter that it's no wonder that some people are disappointed when it comes to the end...

The Father of Algebra

We go back almost 2,000 years to meet Diophantus and solve the riddle of his life - one of the first known algebra puzzles!

Packing, Unpacking and the Panic Button.

The Fogsworths take a trip to Brownpool on Sea - and find that unpacking their cases is a lot easier than packing them up again! It's the same with factorising , which means taking letters in and out of brackets. Luckily when it gets really difficult there's the special Murderous Maths Quadratic Cracker to help you!

And when you meet equations with two answers, there's a panic button that reveals the awesome quadratic formula for you. There's a tricky moment when the man that installs the panic button turns out to be Professor Fiendish in disguise with one of his diabolical challenges, but you can find out how to get rid of him!

EXTRA: Try the old fashioned way of solving quadratics by COMPLETING THE SQUARE!


The Mechanics of Magic

Have you ever wondered how "Think of a Number" tricks really work? This chapter describes and explains several classic tricks involving numbers, predictions and playing cards. There's even a jaw-dropping trick that you can play on somebody which involves the book itself! Meanwhile in the Last Chance Saloon, Riverboat Lil is so tired that she's dropping cards and even letting Brett Shuffler do all the dealing... surely just this once he can actually win his gold watch back from her?

The Murderous Maths Testing Laboratory

Wahey! It's time to put on your orange nylon shirt, your odd socks and your cardigan with holes where the buttons used to be because you're invited in to see what the utterly nutty Pure Mathematicians are up to. Once you've discovered the difference of two squares, Pascal's coefficients and how to simplify the nastiest looking terms, you'll realise why they are breaking giant eggs over their heads and collapsing with laughter at ...nothing!

The Bank Clock

Dolly Snowlips has arranged for the lights to go out at the Municipal Bank - the only problem for Blade Boccelli and his gangster friends is working out exactly when they can sneak in and grab all the money. Oh dear... if only they had known a bit of basic algebra!

Axes, Plots and the Flight of the Loveburger

As we discover how equations can be made into graphs, we seem to be getting showered with a massive range of utterly revolting burgers. Find out how x2 can decribe things flying through the air and how graphs can solve two simultaneous equations at once! Meanwhile Pongo McWhiffy has a plan to impress the terribly lovely Veronica Gumfloss, but he ends up impressing an Evil Gollark instead.

EXTRA: A bit of Calculus! It's perfect reading if you like algebra and graphs!

Double Trouble

Solving one equation with one unknown isn't so bad, but what about two equations with two unknowns? Once you know the different ways of solving simultaneous equations, you'll be ready to unscramble the greedy Fastbuck Councillors expense form! You'll be amazed at how many councillors needed to fly off to Hawaii and lie on a beach for a month on a fact finding mission about pollution. (Thank goodness this is only a silly story in a book and this sort of thing NEVER happens in real life.)

The Zero Proof

At last, you're ready to take on one of the biggest threats to the universe - an eerie piece of algebra that can prove any number = 0. If that's the case then a weight of 10 tonnes would just collapse into a tiny speck, 1000 years could shrink into a single millesecond. So can you help the Phantom break this proof and save the universe?
(Once again now, sing with feeling: "Dah dah DARGHHHH!")

Go THIS way Go THAT way

We've discovered the real identity
of the Phantom X! It's
Tom Wang from Orpington
Thanks for the photo Tom!


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