Issue 24

March 2003
You will often hear it said that we live in the "Information Age" - but are we drowning in this sea of information?
And, can you be a mathematician without being good at sums? Tell us what you think!
One million dollars is waiting to be won by anyone who can solve one of the grand mathematical challenges of the 21st century. But be warned...these problems are hard. In the first of two articles, Chris Budd explains how to hit the bigtime.
Numbers are bandied around all the time in sports coverage - and cricket is particularly rich in statistics and rankings. It has probably not escaped your attention that the World Cup of cricket has just finished in South Africa (Australia won - again) and so to mark the occasion, Rob Eastaway tells Plus what it takes to be the best.
Some molecules - thalidomide, for example - come in both left and right handed versions, while others are indistinguishable from their reflections. Plus finds out about the role of mathematical symmetry in chemistry.
  • Stats in court
  • Letter from a mathematician
Helen is a defence analyst with the MoD, using her maths skills to help defend the nation. Plus finds out about her career path.
Will this ship of fools stay afloat?
This video, aimed at students aged 16+, opens with Professor Chris Budd holding the plastic yellow duck he is entering in the Annual Bath Plastic Duck Race. Competition is stiff - there are over 3,000 contestants - but how can we predict who will win? Very few competitors have form, and it's hard to tell much about their training regimens... so is the outcome totally unpredictable?
Many popular books about mathematics combine elements of exposition and personal commentary, but few combine these disparate elements to the same extent as this book.
Not many books about maths have chapters that start "The dead man seemed to stare at me in a most disconcerting way." But maybe more should - this book is a highly entertaining read, crossing sound mathematical exposition with the classic Sherlock Holmes style of investigation.
Ballet and mathematics - not a combination that you often come across, but one that works beautifully in Frederick Ashton's 1948 ballet, Scénes de ballet. From the geometric patterns on the men's tunics and the perpendicular angle of the ballerina's tutu, to the movements and positioning of the dancers themselves, this ballet is a celebration of mathematics. Ashton was inspired by mathematics, and, according to the programme notes, used a system of Euclidean geometry to choreograph the piece.