'Of the myriad strategems I employ to avoid useful work, the one I most enjoy is to envision how scientists of earlier eras would have made use of modern computers.' John L. Casti tells us how today's mathematicians are using computers to carry on the work of turn-of-the-century polymath d'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, who showed how mathematical functions could be applied to the
shape of one organism to continuously transform it into other, physically similar organisms.
Actuarial science began as the place where two branches of mathematics meet: compound interest and observed mortality statistics. Financial planning for the future is therefore rooted firmly in the past. John Webb takes us through some of the mathematics involved, introducing us to some of the colourful characters who led the way.
Solitaire is a game played with pegs in a rectangular grid. A peg may jump horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally, over a peg in an adjacent square into a vacant square immediately beyond. The peg which was jumped over is then removed.
The German mathematician Adam Ries (1492-1559) was the author of the most successful textbook of commercial arithmetic of his day. The book, published in 1552, earned such a high reputation that the German phrase nach Adam Ries is used to this day to indicate a correct calculation.
Those who understand compound interest are destined to collect it. Those who don't are doomed to pay it - or so says a well-known source of financial advice. But what is compound interest, and why is it so important? John H. Webb explains.
We've all seen a traditional sundial, where a triangular wedge is used to cast a shadow onto a marked-out dial - but did you know that there is another kind? In this article, Chris Sangwin and Chris Budd tell us about a different kind of sundial, the analemmatic design, where you can use your own shadow to tell the time.