Groups are some of the most fundamental objects in maths. Take a system of interacting objects and strip it to the bone to see what makes it tick, and very often you're faced with a group. Colva Roney-Dougal takes us into their abstract world and puzzles over a game of Solitaire.
An unnamed girl in an unnamed, but contemporary, European city enters a rather gloomy old building, reading its address from a crumpled piece of paper. Inside, being given preference over a dozen people sitting in a waiting room, she is ushered into the office of Albert Einstein. "You said that time doesn't exist, so I took the liberty of coming to see you," she says. "You did the right thing," he replies. Thus a conversation ensues that spans all the 176 pages of this book.
One of the things I enjoy most about biographies of mathematicians is the presentation of mathematics as a very human endeavour. Despite the sometimes abstract nature of mathematics, we see in this biography of Kurt Gödel that it is a very human activity pursued by people within a deeply connected community, but each with their own vision of truth.
In last issue's Graphical methods I Phil Wilson used maths to predict the outcome of a cold war in slug world. In this self-contained article he looks at slug world after the disaster: with only a few survivors and all infra-structure destroyed, which species will take root and how will they develop? Graphs can tell it all.
On the 25th of May 1997 a dramatic collision tore a hole into the space station Mir and sent it hurtling through space. As NASA astronaut Michael Foale tells Plus, the fate of Mir and its crew hinged on a classical set of equations.