Plus Blog

September 8, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008

How long will you live? How should you write down numbers? Who's your ideal partner? How good is our voting system? And what is a differential equation? These are difficult and momentous questions. This issue of Plus has some answers, along with a tour of digital art and the usual range of podcasts, news and reviews.

In this issue...

  • Understanding uncertainty: How long will you live?
    It's impossible to give a precise date, but using mortality figures from people similar to you, you can make a confident guess. This article tells you how and has an interactive life expectancy calculator. Do you dare to find out?
  • Kissing the frog: A mathematician's guide to mating
    What's your strategy for love? Hold out for The Only One? Or try and avoid the really bad ones? How long should you wait before cutting your losses and settling down with the next best who comes along? John Billingham investigates and saves the national grid in the process.
  • Mathematics and democracy: Approving a president
    Much criticism has been levelled at the US voting system, and with this being election year, we're bound to hear more of it. In this article Steven J. Brams proposes an alternative voting system that could help make things more democratic.
  • The fabulous positional system
    According to one mathematician, god created the whole numbers, with everything else being the work of humanity. Why, then did god not equip us with a good way of writing them down? Chris Hollings reveals that our number system, much used but rarely praised, is in fact a work of genius and took millennia to evolve.
  • Universal pictures
    Peter Markowich is a mathematician who likes to take pictures. At first his two interests seemed completely separate to him, but then he realised that behind every picture there is a mathematical story to tell. Plus went to see him to find out more, and ended up with a pictorial introduction to partial differential equations.
  • Digital art
    Computer-generated art is on the rise, and with it comes a further blurring of the boundaries between maths and art. Lewis Dartnell looks at some stunning examples.
  • Career interview: Systems engineer
    Chuck Gill caught the space bug as a child when watching Alan Shepherd launch into space. Since then he's worked as a US Air Force navigator, a satellite operator, and in the US intelligence service. These days he's busy reducing carbon emissions and preparing London for the 2012 Olympics. Plus went to see him to find out more about his career.
  • Teacher package: Group theory
    This issue's teacher package brings together all Plus articles on group theory, exploring its applications and recent breakthroughs, and giving explicit definitions and examples of groups. It also has some handy links to related problems on our sister site NRICH.

But wait, there's more!

But we're not done yet!

We are releasing two new podcast episodes in conjunction with the stories in this issue. See the podcast page, or go directly to

Plus all the latest mathematical news and reviews.

Happy reading from the Plus team!

posted by Plus @ 9:14 AM

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September 5, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008

The world's biggest physics experiment is due to kick off on September the 10th, when the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) switches on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Never being one to miss out on such exciting events, Plus has put together a short guide for beginners.

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posted by Plus @ 3:50 PM

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September 3, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Become a Plus author by joining our writing competition. Besides the fame and glory of seeing your article published in Plus, you could win an iPod and other goodies, too!

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posted by Plus @ 3:25 PM

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September 3, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Plus is now on Facebook

Facebook is the online social network of choice at the moment, so who are we to buck the trend?

If you are a member of Facebook, you can now "become a fan" of Plus. Visit the Plus page on Facebook by clicking on this link. Here we will update the Facebook world of Plus news, views and events. Looking forward to seeing you there!

posted by westius @ 11:43 AM

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September 1, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008

Chuck Gill caught the space bug as a child when watching Alan Shepherd launch into space. Since then he's worked as a US Air Force navigator, a satellite operator, and in the US intelligence service. These days he's busy reducing carbon emissions and preparing London for the 2012 Olympics. Plus went to see him to find out more about his career. This podcast accompanies the career interview from issue 48 of Plus.

Hear more...

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posted by Plus @ 3:29 PM

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September 1, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008

Peter Markowich is a mathematician who likes to take pictures. At first his two interest seemed completely separate to him, but then he realised that behind every picture there is a mathematical story to tell. Plus went to see him to find out more, and ended up with an introduction to partial differential equations. This podcast accompanies the article Universal pictures.

Hear more...

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posted by Plus @ 3:23 PM

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