Issue 11

June 2000

What are continued fractions? How do analemmatic sundials work? And what is compound interest and why is it so important? Keep reading and all will be revealed.

One of the most striking and powerful means of presenting numbers is completely ignored in the mathematics that is taught in schools, and it rarely makes an appearance in university courses. Yet the continued fraction is one of the most revealing representations of many numbers, sometimes containing extraordinary patterns and symmetries. John D. Barrow explains.
Those who understand compound interest are destined to collect it. Those who don't are doomed to pay it - or so says a well-known source of financial advice. But what is compound interest, and why is it so important? John H. Webb explains.
In the late 1940s, American painter Jackson Pollock dripped paint from a can on to vast canvases rolled out across the floor of his barn. Richard P. Taylor explains that Pollock's patterns are really fractals - the fingerprint of Nature.
We've all seen a traditional sundial, where a triangular wedge is used to cast a shadow onto a marked-out dial - but did you know that there is another kind? In this article, Chris Sangwin and Chris Budd tell us about a different kind of sundial, the analemmatic design, where you can use your own shadow to tell the time.

The German mathematician Adam Ries (1492-1559) was the author of the most successful textbook of commercial arithmetic of his day. The book, published in 1552, earned such a high reputation that the German phrase nach Adam Ries is used to this day to indicate a correct calculation.

Maths A-levels are "too easy"

Paul Clifford Paul Clifford is the Deputy Head of Maths at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school in Islington. The Plus team visited him there to hear about life as a secondary maths teacher.

Cushion ball