News from the world of Maths

November 26, 2010

Worried you missed Pi day? Never fear! Thanks to the kind people of Wolfram we now have a bevy of mathematical dates to celebrate — six in November alone! November 23, or 11/23 for people in the US, is Fibonacci day as 1,1,2,3 is the start of the Fibonacci sequence. And even mathematically-minded Twilight fans have had something to celebrate...

November 26, 2010

The dramatic curved surfaces of some of the iconic buildings created in the last decade, such as 30 St Mary's Axe (AKA the Gherkin) in London, are only logistically and economically possible thanks to mathematics. Curved panels of glass or other material are expensive to manufacture and to fit. Surprisingly, the curved surface of the Gherkin has been created almost entirely out of flat panels of glass — the only curved piece is the cap on the very top of the building. And simple geometry is all that is required to understand how.

November 26, 2010

The Further Mathematics Support Programme (FMSP) and Rolls–Royce plc are pleased to invite entries for the third national poster competition for undergraduate or PGCE mathematics students.

November 25, 2010

Quantum mechanics is usually associated with weird and counterintuitve phenomena we can't observe in real life. But it turns out that quantum processes can occur in living organisms, too, and with very concrete consequences. Some species of birds use quantum mechanics to navigate. And as Plus found out at a recent conference, studying these little creatures' quantum compass may help us achieve the holy grail of computer science: building a quantum computer.

November 25, 2010

A group of school students-turned-researchers has delivered new data that will help scientists stem the spread of infectious diseases. A study designed by the students reveals social contact patterns among primary schools students. This type of information is crucial in mathematical models of how diseases spread, which can be used to test the effects of interventions like vaccination and school closures. The study was based on specially designed questionnaires which were handed out to primary schools and achieved an unprecedented response rate of nearly 90%.

November 5, 2010

Mathematical language can heighten the imagery of a poem, and mathematical structure can deepen its effect. This lovely blog by JoAnne Growney lets you feast on an international menu of poems made rich by maths.

November 5, 2010

Suppose you're trying to decide which university to go to. You find out that last year the university you're interested in admitted 30% of male applicants but only 21.3% of female applicants. Looks like a clear case of gender bias, so you're tempted to go somewhere else. But then you look at the figures again, this time broken up by department, you see a bias in favour of women. What's going on?

November 3, 2010

The MathsJam weekend is now only 10 days away — the weekend of November 13-14 in the Midlands!

The MathsJam is an opportunity for like-minded self-confessed maths enthusiasts to get together and share stuff they like. Puzzles, games, problems, or just anything they think is cool or interesting.