Articles

We are proud to present the winners of the Plus New Writers Award 2009. The winners were chosen by our three prominent judges for each of the three categories — schools, university and general public.

Read the winning entries now!

With online socialising and alternative realities like Second Life it may seem as if reality has become a whole lot bigger over the last few years. In one branch of theoretical physics, though, things seem to be going the other way. String theorists have been developing the idea that the space and time we inhabit, including ourselves, might be nothing more than an illusion, a hologram conjured up by a reality which lacks a crucial feature of the world as we perceive it: the third dimension. Plus talks to Juan Maldacena to find out more.
It's hard to avoid CERN these days. Last year's successful switch-on of CERN's Large Hadron Collider, followed by a blow-out which is currently being fixed, sparked wide-spread media coverage, and currently CERN stars in the Tom Hanks movie Angels and Demons. So what goes on at CERN and why the hubbub about the Large Hadron Collider, known as the LHC? Ben Allanach investigates.
José-Manuel Rey unveils the curse of attractiveness
In 1979 decorating work in a house in Vienna revealed a set of medieval frescoes depicting a cycle of songs by a 13th century poet, who was particularly fond of satirising the erotic relationships between knights and peasant maidens. The frescoes are of great historical significance, but they are badly damaged. In this article Carola Schönlieb explores how mathematicians use the heat equation to fill in the gaps.

Would you prefer a game with a 90% chance of winning, or one with a 10% chance of losing? You might scratch your head and say it's the same thing, and you'd be right, but research has shown that people's perception of risk is surprisingly vulnerable to the way it's presented. In this article David Spiegelhalter and Mike Pearson explore how risk can be spun and there's an interactive animation for you to have a go yourself.

As an electronic musician Oli Freke has always been fascinated by sine waves, so much so that he's created a song based on them for the Geekpop festival, which is currently taking place on the Web. In this article he explores his song, touching on ancient Greek mythology, strange piano tunings and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Describing the motion of fluids is a huge and unsolved mathematical problem. There are equations that seem to describe it well, but their complete solution is way beyond reach. But could there be a simpler method? The physicist Jerry Gollub tells Plus about a new discovery which combines experiment with sophisticated maths.