Plus Blog

December 15, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007

We talk to Paul Shepherd about the maths of the Arsenal football stadium and to David Youdan about applied maths in the classroom.

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posted by Plus @ 4:25 PM

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December 12, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The mathematics of monopoly on More or less

More or Less, BBC Radio 4's program that takes you on a journey through the often abused but ever ubiquitous world of numbers, has recently returned to the airways, and next Monday (17th December 4.30 pm), regular Plus contributors Rob Eastaway and John Haigh are featuring on the program discussing the maths of Monopoly.

Eastaway and Haigh have written for Plus many times on a range of topics including:

Plus spoke to Eastaway about the science of Monopoly, and without giving too much away, Eastaway commented that because the "Go to jail" square is the most frequently visited sqaure on the board, the orange properties are the best investments, as players leaving jail are most likely to then land on these properties.

This means you should invest in Bow Street, Marlborough and Vine Street — or in the US version, St James Place, New York Avenue or Tennessee Avenue.

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December 6, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christopher Zeeman Medal for Maths Communication

The Christopher Zeeman Medal, the first award dedicated to recognising excellence in the communication of mathematics has been launched by the London Mathematical Society (LMS) and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA).

The LMS and IMA want to honour mathematicians who have excelled in promoting mathematics and engaging with the general public. They may be academic mathematicians based in universities, mathematics school teachers, industrial mathematicians, those working in the financial sector or indeed mathematicians from any number of other fields.

Most importantly, these mathematicians will have worked exceptionally to bring mathematics to a non-specialist audience. Whether it is through giving public lectures, writing books, appearing on radio or television, organising events or through an entirely separate medium, the LMS and IMA want to celebrate the achievements of mathematicians who work to inspire others.

In a joint statement, the presidents of the LMS and IMA said, "We are delighted to be able to show how much we need and value mathematicians who can promote their subject successfully. This role is vital to inspiring the next generation of mathematicians as well as helping the wider public to enjoy mathematics."

The award is named after Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman, FRS, whose notable career was pioneering not only in his fields of topology and catastrophe theory, but who was also ground-breaking in bringing his beloved mathematics to the wider public.

Sir Christopher was the first mathematician to be asked to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1978, a full 160 years since they began. His "Mathematics into pictures" lectures, have been cited by many young UK mathematicians as their inspiration. They also led to the creation of the Ri's Mathematics Masterclasses, weekly lectures delivered to schoolchildren across the UK via a network of 50 centres.

Sir Christopher's skill as a communicator has been recognised in the wider community. In 1988, he was the third recipient of the Royal Society's Faraday Prize, awarded annually to a scientist or engineer who has excelled in communicating science to public audiences. His award was made "for the contributions he has made to the popularization of mathematics".

On the announcement of the medal, Sir Christopher said, "I am extremely honoured to have such an important award bear my name. I hope this medal will encourage more mathematicians to see communicating their work to the wider public as a key part of their role."

Nominations for the medal are now invited. To receive a nomination form, please contact:

The Secretary to the Christopher Zeeman Medal London Mathematical Society De Morgan House 57-58 Russell Square London WC1B 4HS

Or email prizes@lms.ac.uk. Forms should be returned by February 2008.

posted by Plus @ 2:39 PM

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At 1:27 PM, Blogger Billlion said...

Zeeman's RI lectures "have been cited by many young UK mathematicians as their inspiration".

I was certainly one! I decided both to study mathematics and to do it at Warwick on the basis of these lectures. There were quite a few of us at Warwick my year with the same story.

Now as a professor of applied mathematics I use maths to solve a wide range of problems from monitoring lung function in intensive care to desinging liquid crystal displays, to detecting threats in airport baggage.

I hope this mdeal encourages those who continue to inspire the next generations of mathematicians.

Bill Lionheart

 
December 1, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007

We talk to Nira Chamberlain about his job as a modelling consultant involving aircraft carriers, telecommunication networks, staying slim and speaking French. This podcast accompanies the career interview from issue 45 of Plus.

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posted by Plus @ 4:28 PM

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November 23, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007

TED Prize for Professor Neil Turok

Professor Neil Turok, Chair of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University, has been named one of the three TED prize winners for 2008.

Other 2008 prize winners were Dave Eggers (author) and Karen Armstrong (authority on comparative religions). Previous prizewinners have included Bill Clinton, E.O. Wilson and Bono.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design and started in 1984 as a conference bringing together these disciplines. Since then its scope has broadened and its activities centre on the annual conference in Monterey, California.

Every year, TED names three new recipients for the TED Prize. Each TED prize winner chooses a project which they announce at the annual conference - the next conference will be held between February 27 and March 1 2008 in Monterey, California.

Professor Turok was awarded the James Clerk Maxwell medal of the Institute of Physics for his contributions to theoretical physics in 1992 and has worked in a number of areas of mathematical and early-universe physics. He developed the theory of open inflation and with Stephen Hawking developed the Hawking-Turok instanton solutions, describing the birth of an inflationary universe. Most recently, with Paul Steinhardt at Princeton, he has developed a cyclic model for the universe, in which the big bang is explained as a collision between two "brane-worlds" in M-theory. Steinhardt and Turok cowrote the popular science book Endless Universe. In 2003, Turok founded the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Muizenberg, a postgraduate educational center supporting the development of mathematics and science across the African continent.

You can read more about Professor Turok's work in the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge University in this Plus article Building Newton's nest.

We await what Professor Turok will wish for in his acceptance speech. In 2005 Bono called for action in Africa, in 2007 Bill Clinton talked about building a health care system in Rwanda and also in 2007 E.O. Wilson shared his vision for the Encyclopedia of Life.

posted by Plus @ 12:02 PM

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At 10:47 AM, Blogger westius said...

Neil Turok has just been written up in Physics World in the article Seeking an African Einstein.

A new postgraduate centre for maths and computer science has opened in the Nigerian capital of Abuja as part of an ambitious plan to find the "next Einstein" in Africa. The centre is providing advanced training to graduate students from across Africa in maths and related fields. It wants to attract the best young African scientists and nurture their talents as problem-solvers and teachers.

 
November 16, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007

The cost of poor maths skills

The poor maths skills of shoppers who fail to notice that they have been short-changed at the supermarket costs UK shoppers over £800 million a year.

Learndirect, an adult learning organisation, found that from a survey of 1000 people over half think that their basic maths skills let them down when shopping.

Many report that they struggle when converting currency on holiday and fail to take notice of how much items cost. A lack of basic English skills also contributes to this. This lack of basic skills means that £823 million is lost each year.

Learndirect operates a network of more than 800 online learning centres in England and Wales, providing access to a range of e-learning opportunities. Their survey suggests that:

  • one in five shoppers cannot convert local currency into pounds while on holiday;
  • more than a third admit to adding up on their fingers when they have no calculator;
  • one in five do not know the difference between words that sound the same but have different meanings, such as “there” and “their”;
  • two thirds rely completely on a spellchecker at work;
  • 40% cannot calculate volume;
  • a third find converting fractions to decimals very difficult.
Learndirect also says that 1.4 million UK workers believe they have missed out on a promotion, or even lost a job, due to a lack of basic maths or English skills. This is why you should read Plus!

posted by Plus @ 3:04 PM

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