Issue 8

May 1999

What does mobile phone interference have to do with graph colouring problems? This issue has the answer, as well as a fascinating look at our dynamic sun and the art of numbers. There is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics!

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) is now chiefly remembered as a mathematical astronomer who discovered three laws that describe the motion of the planets. J.V. Field continues our series on the origins of proof with an examination of Kepler's astronomy.
We take reliable radio communications for granted, but accommodating many different users is not easy. Robert Leese explains how the mathematics of colouring graphs can help avoid interference on your mobile phone.
On 11th August 1999 a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from parts of the UK. It will provide a spectacular display, but why is the Sun so interesting? Helen Mason explains.
At the Hewlett Packard campus in Bristol, a group of keen researchers are bringing together the worlds of advanced mathematics and fine art. Kona Macphee investigates.

In the 1950's, Ernst Straus asked a seemingly simple problem. Imagine a dark room with lots of turns and side-passages, where all the walls are covered in mirrors - just like the Hall of Mirrors in an old-fashioned fun-fair. Is it true that if someone lights a match somewhere in the room, then wherever you stand in the rest of the room (even down a side-passage) you can see a reflection of the match?

  • Darkened skies
  • Interesting times
Francesco Mezzadri from Italy and Nina Snaith from Canada are PhD students in Applied Mathematics at the University of Bristol. They are also affiliated with Hewlett Packard's BRIMS Laboratory. PASS Maths went to visit them there.
Put the gobbling goat on a diet