The number pi can be expressed beautifully in terms of infinite sums. For practical purposes though, these sums are rather disappointing: they converge slowly, so you need to sum a large number of terms to get accurate estimates of pi. Here's a clever way to make them converge faster.
Would you stake your fortune on a 100 to 1 outsider? Probably not. But what if, somewhere in a parallel universe, the straggling nag does come in first? Would the pleasure you feel in that universe outweigh the pain you feel in the one in which you've lost? Questions not dissimilar to this one occupy physicists and for entirely respectable reasons.
Are there parallel universes? Universes in which, rather than reading this article, you are still asleep; in which you are happier, unhappier, richer, poorer, or even dead? The answer is "possibly". It's a controversial claim but one that has won more and more followers over the last few decades.
Ocean waves are not moving walls of water. Instead, it's some kind of energy that moves along. But then, what happens to the water itself? This isn't just an idle question to ponder while watching the ocean — its answer may help protect us from it too. And it requires some sophisticated maths.
Space is three-dimensional... or is it? In fact, we are all used to living in a curved, multidimensional universe. And a mathematical argument might just explain how those higher dimensions are hidden from view.