Issue 22

November 2002
Among all the coverage of celebrities' love lives, where is the news that counts? Plus examines maths in the media.
A new series of More or Less, BBC Radio 4's series devoted to all things numerical, starts on November 12th. Presenter Andrew Dilnot tells Plus about the motivation behind the programme.
It was Euclid who first defined the Golden Ratio, and ever since people have been fascinated by its extraordinary properties. Find out if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and how the Golden Ratio crosses from mathematics to the arts.
To make hard decisions, you need hard facts. Medical statistics can help us to decide what treatment to look for when we are ill, and to estimate our chances of recovery.
When it comes to the science of the very small, strange things start happening, and our intuition ceases to be a useful guide. Plus finds out about the crazy quantum world, and spin that a politician would die for.

Just over 220 years have passed since the death of one of the most distinguished mathematicians in history: Daniel Bernoulli, who died on March 17th, 1782. The name of Bernoulli asks for precision since the family from Basle produced no fewer than eight outstanding mathematicians within three generations.

Ever since the thalidomide tragedy, governments have realised the importance of a strict licensing regime for new drugs. Medical statistician Robert Hemmings explains how his work for the Medicines Control Agency helps to safeguard the health of the nation.
What happens when Santa gets confused?
Despite its title, Carl Djerassi's latest play, Calculus, is more like a lesson in history or even psychology than one in mathematics. This is because Djerassi's intention was to explore the moral calculus that was involved in the discovery of the mathematical technique, rather than the technique itself.
During September and October, the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences showed a small exhibition of two suites of photo-etchings with mathematical components by the Canadian artist Catherine M Stewart, who studied both maths and physics in the course of her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. Elements of Grace is a collection of 12 photo-etchings which combine diagrams from Newton's Principia Mathematica (1729) with photodetails of the human body.
Anyone who thought geometry was boring or dry should prepare to be amazed. Despite its worthy cover this book is exactly what its title says - a story - and the plot of this story involves life, death and revolutions of understanding and belief, and stars the some of the most famous names in history.
Euclid defined what later became known as the Golden Ratio thus: A straight line is said to have been cut in extreme and mean ratio when, as the whole line is to the greater segment, so is the greater to the lesser.