Betting on science, The Simpsons and how maths keeps aircraft apart — More or Less returns to BBC Radio 4 from 4.30pm on Mondays.
Among the stories featured in the latest series presented by Tim Harford will be the tax-free phenomenon of spread betting, how some scientists are making money by betting on their own theories being proven correct, and how air traffic scheduling relies on mathematics to function and bring aircraft safely into land.
Later in the series will be a round-table discussion featuring the Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, Vince Cable MP and Fraser Nelson, political editor of The Spectator, about how numbers influence
politics and policies and how they are often the most important part of the story. There will also be an exclusive interview with Al Jean, head writer and executive producer of The Simpsons and Harvard maths graduate, on his love of numbers and how to
constantly get good numeracy jokes into the world's longest running sitcom.
From the complexity of the snowflake, to the London tube map and the spiralling Andromeda galaxy, imagery has always been a vitally important ingredient of science. Plus talks to John Barrow, professor of mathematics at Cambridge University and author of the new book Cosmic Imagery, about the images that have changed science, and how we have viewed science, over the
This podcast is also available in an enhanced version, which shows all the images mentioned in this podcast as you listen. You can view the enhanced podcast in your browser, or download the MP4 file to to your computer and for playing on your MP4 player (for example iPod).
Walter Warwick Sawyer was a mathematician and author who made a major contribution to mathematical education. He recently passed away in Canada, aged 96. He was very much concerned with the practical applications of mathematics and considered that students taught mathematics without an appreciation of its application would have no more understanding of what they were learning than a machine.
His love of mathematics is seen in the title of his first book, the highly acclaimed Mathematician's Delight, whose aim was to "dispel the fear of mathematics".
It is common belief among teachers and parents that when teaching mathematical concepts, the best way to illustrate them is with 'real-world' examples. However, researchers at Ohio State University's Center for Cognitive Science have found the exact opposite — that college students taught a new mathematical concept with real-world, concrete examples
were less able to apply their knowledge to new situations than students taught with abstract symbols.
There are more grains of sand on Earth than there are stars in sky, or so the saying goes.
Mathematician Anne Fey, from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, is using sand-pile models as a novel approach to calculate probabilities in fields as diverse as studies of the Earth's crust, stock market fluctuations and the formation of traffic jams.