Articles

Dan Brown in his book, The Da Vinci Code, talks about the "divine proportion" as having a "fundamental role in nature". Brown's ideas are not completely without foundation, as the proportion crops up in the mathematics used to describe the formation of natural structures like snail's shells and plants, and even in Alan Turing's work on animal coats. But Dan Brown does not talk about mathematics, he talks about a number. What is so special about this number?

Probabilities and statistics: they are everywhere, but they are hard to understand and can be counter-intuitive. So what's the best way of communicating them to an audience that doesn't have the time, desire, or background to get stuck into the numbers? This article explores modern visualisation techniques and finds that the right picture really can be worth a thousand words.

The only good thing about a wash-out summer is that you get to see lots of rainbows. Keats complained that a mathematical explanation of these marvels of nature robs them of their magic, conquering "all mysteries by rule and line". But rainbow geometry is just as elegant as the rainbows themselves.

According to Einstein, the past, present and future have exactly the same character - so why do we feel that there is a particular moment we call "now"? The physicist George Ellis looks for an answer in the curious laws of quantum mechanics.

Everyone knows what time is. We can practically feel it ticking away, marching on in the same direction with horrifying regularity. Time has enslaved the Western world and become our most precious commodity. Turn it over to the physicists however, and it begins to morph, twist and even crumble away. So what is time exactly?

Is it rational to believe in a god? The most famous rational argument in favour of belief was made by Blaise Pascal, but what happens if we apply modern game theory to the question?

Usain Bolt, the "fastest man on the planet", aims to get his 100 metre world record of 9.58 seconds down to 9.40 seconds. What has mathematics got to say about this quest?

We all take for granted that mathematics can be used to describe the world, but when you think about it this fact is rather stunning. This article explores what the applicability of maths says about the various branches of mathematical philosophy.