Foraging ants have a hard life, embarking on long and arduous trips several times a day, until they drop dead from exhaustion. The trips are not just long, they also follow complex zig-zag paths. So how do ants manage to find their way back home? And how do they manage to do so along a straight line? Their secret lies in a little geometry.
This is the second in a series of two articles in which Ian Short looks at topology using topographical features of maps. Find out about Jordan curves and winding numbers with the help of hermits, lighthouses and drunken sailors.
Table tennis first became an Olympic sport in 1988, but changed its scoring system in 2001 to make matches more exciting for spectators. But how does the new system compare to the old one in terms of your chances of winning?
In the 1930s the logician Kurt Gödel showed that if you set out proper rules for mathematics, you lose the ability to decide whether certain statements are true or false. This is rather shocking and you may wonder why Gödel's result hasn't wiped out mathematics once and for all. The answer is that, initially at least, the unprovable statements logicians came up with were quite contrived. But are they about to enter mainstream mathematics?
One of the most surprising things about mathematics is its many unsolved mysteries. Mathematics is far from "done and dusted", and Steve Humble shows us how we can come up with some mathematical mysteries of our own.