Articles

During the Second World War, the Allies' codebreakers worked at Bletchley Park to decipher the supposedly unbreakable Enigma code. Claire Ellis tells us about their heroic efforts, which historians believe shortened the war by two years.
Many people find no beauty and pleasure in maths - but, as Lewis Dartnell explains, our brains have evolved to take pleasure in rhythm, structure and pattern. Since these topics are fundamentally mathematical, it should be no surprise that mathematical methods can illuminate our aesthetic sense.
Regular Plus contributor Lewis Dartnell reports on the scramble for million-dollar prizes that made mathematical headlines at the BA Festival of Science in September 2004.
As anyone starting out knows, the violin is a difficult instrument. It takes time before the novice player can expect to produce a musical note at the desired pitch, instead of a whistle, screech or graunch. Jim Woodhouse and Paul Galluzzo explain why.
In issue 29 of Plus, we heard how a simple mathematical equation became the subject of a debate in the UK parliament. Chris Budd and Chris Sangwin continue the story of the mighty quadratic equation.
How does the uniform ball of cells that make up an embryo differentiate to create the dramatic patterns of a zebra or leopard? How come there are spotty animals with stripy tails, but no stripy animals with spotty tails? Lewis Dartnell solves these, and other, puzzles of animal patterning.
In the early days of the UK National Lottery, it was quite common to see newspaper articles that looked back on what numbers had recently been drawn, and attempted to identify certain numbers as "due" or "hot". Few such articles appear now, and John Haigh thinks that perhaps the publicity surrounding the lottery has enhanced the nation's numeracy.
It isn't often that a mathematical equation makes the national press, far less popular radio, or most astonishingly of all, is the subject of a debate in the UK parliament. However, as Chris Budd and Chris Sangwin tell us, in 2003 the good old quadratic equation, which we all learned about in school, reached these dizzy pinnacles of fame.