Issue 34

March 2005
In this issue we take a step back in time in order to look to the future - we crack the codes of history, look forward to quantum cryptography, and meet the 19th century female mathematician who envisioned the computers of today. Plus we find out how maths turns the thoughts of Lords to the pub.
Rachel Thomas looks at the life and work of pioneering woman mathematician Ada Lovelace, who foresaw computer-generated music and graphics, despite living long before the computer era.
In the first of two articles, Artur Ekert takes a tour through the history of codes and the prospects for truly unbreakable quantum cryptography.
During the Second World War, the Allies' codebreakers worked at Bletchley Park to decipher the supposedly unbreakable Enigma code. Claire Ellis tells us about their heroic efforts, which historians believe shortened the war by two years.
The tsunami of December 26th 2004 has focused the world's attention on this terrifying consequence of an underwater earthquake. Michael McIntyre explores the underlying wave mathematics.
  • Wisdom from above - An intriguing debate in the House of Lords on standards in maths education
  • Readers' corner - How many computers does the world need?
Nick Crawley had recently set up his own financial consultancy firm in Sydney, Australia, offering advice on large-scale financing deals. He tells Plus about the challenges and rewards of working in an incentive-driven environment.
Chocolate egg or chocolate bunny? Dark chocolate or white?
This book is a curious mixture of biography, history and mathematics, all neatly packaged into an entertaining and enlightening read. In essence it is a biography of the brilliant and eccentric mathematician, John von Neumann, who began life, much like many of the other great mathematicians, by being able to do basic arithmatic before other children could speak and with an ability to calculate exceptionally well before he even went to school.
It's never easy for me to read a work of fiction based in and around a world I'm familiar with. Quite often I find that the author will make some small error of fact, perhaps about something very minor, which then stops me from enjoying the book as a whole because I begin to wonder what other facts, in areas that I know nothing about, are also incorrect.
"Tribute to a Mathemagician" is the third book in a series of publications based on the Gathering for Gardner meetings, a regular gathering of enthusiasts who share Martin Gardner's interests in mathematics, magic and puzzle creation. Martin Gardner, the father of recreational mathematics, has influenced readers all over the world with his "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American, which ran for 25 years.