Plus Blog

March 14, 2011

Today is Pi day - it's March 14th, written as 3/14 in the US - and to celebrate we bring you some of our favourite articles about our favourite number:

March 11, 2011

A massive earthquake hit Japan earlier today, registering 8.9 on the Richter scale and the largest ever recorded for Japan. The tsunami triggered by the quake brought a 10m high wall of water in northern Japan, and other countries are now waiting for it to hit their shores.

But what causes earthquakes and tsunamis and what can we do to protect ourselves from their destructive power? Michael McIntyre explains how earthquakes happen and how the oceans respond in his article Tsunami. We also report on how buildings can be designed to limit earthquake damage in Quake-proof, a news story from 2005. And Shane Latchman explores how we can predict the damage caused by these events in his article Modelling catastrophes.

February 21, 2011

John D. Barrow is continuing his public lecture tour to promote his new Book of Universes. You can catch him at Gresham College in London on March 1st (admission free) and at the Bath Literary Festival on February 27th (admission £7, concession £6). Clicking on the links will take you to the relevant websites with more information on times and places.

Barrow will tell a story that revolves around a single extraordinary fact: that Albert Einstein's famous theory of relativity describes a series of entire universes. Not many solutions to Einstein's tantalising universe equations have ever been found, but those that have are all remarkable. Some describe universes that expand in size, while others contract. Some rotate like a top, while others are chaotically unpredictable. Some are perfectly smooth, while others are lumpy. Some permit time travel into the past. Only a few allow life to evolve within them; the rest, if they exist, remain unknown and unknowable to conscious minds.

You'll encounter universes where the laws of physics can change from time to time and from one region to another, universes that have extra hidden dimensions of space and time, universes that are eternal, universes that live inside black holes, universes that end without warning, colliding universes, inflationary universes, and universes that come into being from something else – or from nothing at all. Gradually, we are introduced to the latest and the best descriptions of the Universe as we understand it today, together with the concept of the multiverse – the universe of all possible universes – that modern theories of physics lead us to contemplate.

If you're in London, you can actually see Barrow twice on the same day, as on March 1st he's giving another free lecture at Gresham College, called Doing business in interstellar space. In this lecture Barrow imagines interstellar trade at speeds close to the speed of light. It would have to incorporate the insights of Einstein's special theory of relativity, which teaches us that clocks on board a spaceship moving at high velocity will ensure time at different rates relative to clocks at the point of departure. This means that time travel into the future is possible. Which time-keeping should we use? What would happen to economics if time-travel to the past was also possible?

February 21, 2011

The Millennium Mathematics Project (of which Plus is a part) has just launched the Maths and Sport: Countdown to the Games website at http://sport.maths.org.

Maths and Sport: Countdown to the Games is an exciting new project to celebrate London 2012. We're developing free online mathematical articles and activities exploring maths and science through the Olympic and Paralympic Games, aimed at a wide audience from school students and their teachers to members of the public. Find all our current articles and activities here and join our mailing list to receive email updates on new content as it appears.

February 21, 2011

There's a new special episode of one of our favourite maths podcasts — Math/Maths, produced by Peter Rowlett and Samuel Hansen. Peter talks to Ruby Childs, a recent maths graduate who is interested in what makes people like mathematics for an essay she is writing. She's particularly interested in why people chose to study maths further. You can listen to the podcast, read a relevant blog post by Peter and you can also send your own answers to Ruby via Twitter or via a contact form on her tumblr blog.

The more people answer, the more interesting her essay will be!

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February 11, 2011

If you're in London on Tuesday the 15th of February, then why not take a journey into other worlds with John D. Barrow at the Royal Institution?

Barrow will tell a story that revolves around a single extraordinary fact: that Albert Einstein's famous theory of relativity describes a series of entire universes. Not many solutions to Einstein's tantalising universe equations have ever been found, but those that have are all remarkable. Some describe universes that expand in size, while others contract. Some rotate like a top, while others are chaotically unpredictable. Some are perfectly smooth, while others are lumpy. Some permit time travel into the past. Only a few allow life to evolve within them; the rest, if they exist, remain unknown and unknowable to conscious minds.

You'll encounter universes where the laws of physics can change from time to time and from one region to another, universes that have extra hidden dimensions of space and time, universes that are eternal, universes that live inside black holes, universes that end without warning, colliding universes, inflationary universes, and universes that come into being from something else – or from nothing at all.

Gradually, we are introduced to the latest and the best descriptions of the Universe as we understand it today, together with the concept of the multiverse – the universe of all possible universes – that modern theories of physics lead us to contemplate.

The event will start at 7pm. Tickets £10 standard, £7 concessions, £5 Ri Members Tickets purchased on the door will incur a £2 booking fee. For more information visit the Royal Institution website.

And you can read more about the universe, gymnastics, elephants and much more from Barrow on Plus!

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