Plus Blog

June 9, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Fourier transform is a piece of maths that is, almost single-handedly, responsible for the digital revolution. Digital music and images would be impossible without it, and it has applications in anything from medical imaging to landmine detection. We asked Chris Budd what the Fourier transform does, and how it does it. This podcast accompanies the Plus article Saving lives: The mathematics of tomography.

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posted by Plus @ 3:38 PM

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June 9, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Maths has long been a theme in the movies. Plus talks to Madeleine Shepherd, organiser of the maths film festival at the recent Edinburgh science festival, about how maths has been presented in the movies over the years, with particular reference to three more recent films, Cube, Pi and Flatland. For more on maths in the movies read the Plus article Maths, madness and movies.

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posted by Plus @ 3:48 PM

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June 5, 2008
Friday, June 06, 2008

A damning new report into maths education blames an over-politicised system for narrow teaching, uninterested students and demotivated teachers.

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posted by Plus @ 12:46 PM

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June 2, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I will derive!

Mathematicians are known to be good musicians. Here is a mathematical parody of the Gloria Gaynor song, "I will survive". I particularly like the lyrics:

And so now I, I will derive.
Find the derivative of x position with respect to time.
It's as easy as can be, just have to take dx/dt.
I will derive, I will derive, I will derive!


posted by westius @ 3:05 PM

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June 2, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mathematics is used in interesting, and often less than accurate, ways. Newspapers present graphs showing apparently correlated variables, but with a little thought, some of the time you will find that whilst it looks like two variables are connected, there is actually no cause and effect. An unscrupulous media can draw connections where they don't exist for political ends and politicians have been known to confuse cause and effect entirely. So what really is behind the rise in oil prices? Could it be the humble game of cricket?

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posted by westius @ 5:00 PM

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June 2, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Boomerangs in space

A boomerang has been thrown in space, and lo and behold, it returns to its thrower, just like on Earth.

Japanese astronaut Takao Doi threw the boomerang on request from world boomerang champion, compatriot Yasuhiro Togai onboard the International Space Station.

"I was very surprised and moved to see that it flew the same way it does on Earth," Doi was quoted as saying in the Mainichi Shimbun.

Thanks to wawawamovie for the following video of the boomerang.

If you would like to read more about the physics of throwing a boomerang (and why it is no surprise that it should fly in microgravity as long as there is air), read the Plus article Unspinning the boomerang. And to make your own boomerang, read the Plus article Bang up a boomerang.

posted by westius @ 3:59 PM

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