## News from the world of Maths

 May 10, 2011 We like to think of the human brain as special, but as we reported on Plus last year, it has quite a lot in common with worm brains and even with high-performance information processing systems. But how does it compare to online social networks? In a recent lecture the psychiatrist Ed Bullmore put this question to the test. April 27, 2011 With the day of the referendum on the UK voting system drawing nearer, Tony Crilly uses a toy example to compare the first past the post, AV and Condorcet voting systems, and revisits a famous mathematical theorem which shows that there is nothing obvious about voting. April 20, 2011 Is there maths in beach volleyball? Or show jumping? Or in Taekwondo? If there is, then Plus is going to find it. But to know where to start, we need your help: we'd like to know which of the Olympic sports you'd most like to see covered in Plus. So please vote below — you can choose up to three sports. We'll do our best to cover your favourite sports in the run-up to London 2012 and our coverage will also be shared by our Olympic project Maths & sport: Countdown to the games April 13, 2011 If you are prone to forgetting your passwords, you're not alone. To make sure we remember all our passwords, many of us take measures that defeat the purpose. These include, as studies have shown, using the same password for everything or writing them down on post-it notes and sticking them to our computer. But such sloppiness makes easy work for evil agents out to steal our data and identities. Now physicists from the US and Germany have devised a safer way of using passwords that takes account of the human need for memorability. April 11, 2011 Topologists famously think that a doughnut is the same as a coffee cup because one can be deformed into the other without tearing or cutting. In other words, topology doesn't care about exact measurements of quantities like lengths, angles and areas. Instead, it looks only at the overall shape of an object, considering two objects to be the same as long as you can morph one into the other without breaking it. But how do you work with such a slippery concept? One useful tool is what's called the fundamental group of a shape. April 1, 2011 Last week leading researchers in sports technology met at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London to demonstrate just how far their field has come over recent years. The changes they make to athletes' equipment and clothes may only make a tiny difference to their performance, but once they're added up they can mean the difference between gold and silver. March 23, 2011 Physicists at the University of California, Los Angeles set out to design a better transistor and ended up with a discovery that may lead to a new explanation of electron spin and possibly even the nature of space. March 23, 2011 The Abel Prize 2011 goes to John Willard Milnor of Stony Brook University, New York for "pioneering discoveries in topology, geometry and algebra".