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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.
A proof with a hole
Two designers tell us how they took the long way round to design, and how the maths and science they took in on the way helps them with their work today.
  • Plus new writers award - Maths is the language of the universe, so what have you got to say?
  • Reader's corner - 6174 and other mysterious numbers.
  • World Cup maths - How Plus can help you with your football.
How to keep warm and safe
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.
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