Plus Blog

June 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008

If we are to believe the latest signs from outer space, the local aliens are keen mathematicians. A new crop circle appeared on the 1st of June this year in a barley field near Barbury Castle in Wiltshire, England, measuring 150 feet in diameter and correctly representing the first 10 digits of the irrational constant pi.

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posted by westius @ 11:12 AM

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June 16, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Issue 47 of Plus is our biggest issue ever and a mathematical showcase! Not only are we bringing you the best young writing talent with the winners of the Plus new writers award, but we are overloaded with features about the ways maths influences and shapes our lives. We investigate the overlap between the arts and maths, find out why mathematicians are always portrayed as mad in the movies, and learn about the nature of infinity and of prime numbers. We also challenge 118118 with some mathematics, uncover the mathematics of surprise and respond to recent newspaper reports that maths is no longer relevant. There are also all our usual puzzle and teacher package.

And if you want to give you eyes a break, tune your ears into our podcast, with 3 new episodes out today.

More information:

  • Competition winners
  • The 2008 Plus new writers award has been run and won. This year's competition saw an exceptional standard of writing. The winning entries include biographies of two of the greatest mathematicians of the last 100 years, as well as articles on the mathematics of Google, ants that do maths, why we should (or should not) woo brunettes, the dangers of probing the infinite, and joining the mathematical mile-high club...

  • Plus Podcast
  • We are releasing 3 new podcast episodes in conjunction with the stories in this issue:

    1. Podcast 11, June 2008: Catching waves
      The magical Fourier transform;
    2. Podcast 10, June 2008: Maths in the Movies
      The maths film festival at the Edinburgh science festival;
    3. Plus Careers Podcast 2, June 2008: Exhibition Curator
      Exhibition design is not a career that the mathematically inclined tend to think about, let alone pursue.

    Happy reading from Plus!

posted by westius @ 10:30 AM

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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

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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