We at Plus have always known that maths is beautiful, but now even the most aesthetic of worlds, fashion, is taking note. Last week in The Independent, Professor Sandy Black, from
the Centre for Fashion Science, London College of Fashion, explained how her mathematical background has enabled her to create complex and unique knitted designs, selling in the most prestigious stores in London, New York and Tokyo.
Black also wrote about some of the exciting future possibilities resulting from weaving together science and fashion. Digital body scanning might not only produce made-to-measure clothes, but might even mean you never have to enter a cramped changing room again and instead virtually check the fit of those new jeans. Wonderland, a project funded by EPSRC that brings together designers and chemists, has created dresses that dissolve in water and packaging that can be turned into a gel used to grow seeds. You can read more in her article.
And if you can't wait for your mathematical fashion, maths has even made it into the Selfridges window display, as photographed last week by Dr Brian Stewart.
As part of our celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 we brought you the article How does gravity work?, in which Bangalore Sathyaprakash takes us from Newton's theory of gravitation to Einstein's general theory of relativity. Now hear Sathyaprakash explain gravity in his own words
in this podcast.
In our fourth online poll to find out what Plus readers would most like to know about the Universe you told us that you'd like to find out how gravity works. We took the question to Professor Bangalore Sathyaprakash of the School of Physics and Astronomy at
Cardiff University, and here is his answer. This interview is also available as a podcast.
If you'd like to put another Universe question to experts, vote in the current poll, or leave a comment on this blog.
Thanks for this interesting article - but I do find the paragraph below confusing. My first problem is the sentence: "But according to Newton's gravity, the effect of the Sun's vanishing would be felt immediately, as the Earth would fly away in an tangential direction to its original path." Does this vanishing refer to sight? If so, this has nothing to do with gravity.
"According to Newton's theory, gravitational interaction is instantaneous. Suppose the Sun were to vanish from the horizon today. We would not notice its disappearance immediately just by looking at the Sun, because light takes some time to travel. But according to Newton's gravity, the effect of the Sun's vanishing would be felt immediately, as the Earth would fly away in an tangential direction
to its original path." Einstein's special theory of relativity, however, states that nothing, not even information, can travel faster than the speed of light. "It's possible to use the vanishing Sun analogy to construct [theoretical] gravitational telegraphs which would transmit information instantaneously — and that, according to Einstein, is impossible. That's the reason why Einstein had to
reformulate the theory of gravity." Einstein published his reformulation in 1916, under the name of general relativity.
A researcher from the University of Bath has tackled an old geometric problem with a new method, which may lead to advances in creating hip replacements and replacement bone tissue for bone cancer patients. The Kelvin problem, posed by Lord Kelvin in 1887, is to find an arrangement of cells, or bubbles, of equal volume, so that the surface area of the walls between them is as small as possible
— in other words, to find the most efficient soap bubble foam. The problem is relevant to bone replacement materials because bone tissue has a honeycomb-like structure, similar to a bubble foam.
This year's Frieze Art Fair in London is going to tempt its arty audience with a little string theory. A project developed by David Berman, a physicist at Queen Mary, University of London, and the US artist Jordan Wolfson will invite visitors to view the show together with a string theorist, who will talk about his trade while touring the exhibition. The aim is to open up unconventional
perspectives on the art works on display.
Plus doesn't usually report on primary school maths, but we couldn't resist telling you about a beautiful new maths play for key stage 2 students, which premiered today at the Royal Institution. In the land of Polygonia, where maths is the official language, Rhombus the maths wizard is falsely imprisoned on the orders of
Queen Parabola. Data, a ten-year old girl, is the only witness. Before she can help him she must learn to speak the language of maths — and work out why the queen hates anyone who tries to make maths exciting.
Today's two performances, each in front of a full house, proved a great success with audiences made up of students from year 3 through to year 7 and their teachers. With their help, and plenty of laughs, Data managed to solve the puzzles facing her in her mission to save Rhombus, encountering prime numbers, number sequences, symmetry and more mathematical magic along the way. Data and the
audience learn that no matter how difficult a maths problem looks, there's usually a trick which makes it simpler, and more fun.