## Articles

*string theory*have nudged their way into public consciousness. It's a theory of everything in which everything's made of strings — or something like that. But why strings? What do they do? Where did the idea come from and why do we need such a theory?

**David Berman**has an equation-free introduction for beginners.

**Rob Eastaway**and

**John Haigh**find chance in church and work out the odds.

*any*tilings based on fiveness?

**Craig Kaplan**takes us through the five-fold tiling problem and uncovers some interesting designs in the process.

**Chris Sangwin**tells you how to make your own set of

*Napier's bones*and perform mathemagic with an interactive checker board.

**Phil Wilson**continues our series on the life and work of Leonhard Euler, who would have turned 300 this year. This article looks at the calculus of variations and a mysterious law of nature that has caused some scientists to reach out for god.

**Tom Körner**'s explanation really is a piece of cake, served up with a hefty estimate of pi.

**Shahn Majid**met up with

*Plus*to explain.