Just over two weeks after the outbreak of swine flu, sorry, H1N1, most of us have come round to the idea that a pandemic doesn't always necessitate panic. The infection is spreading steadily, but in most people it's relatively mild and only a very small number of people have died outside Mexico. So were initial media reports just hype?
A very good article which shows just how important fairly simple maths is in thinking rigorously about the world around us.
For example, I had heard of the idea of herd immunity before and had never really understood it - from a biological perspective I just thought tha if there were unvaccinated individuals around they would catch the disease so you'd have to immunise everybody. But once you introduce the idea of an reproduction rate, it's absolutely clear why that's not the case - because any geometric series with
r<0 tends to 0.
Of course as the article goes on to make clear, it's more complicated than that as a geometric series is probably not the appropriate model, but that's what makes it so fascinating. Thanks Plus!
If you're thirsty for knowledge, then go along to this free Gresham College lecture taking place in London on Wednesday the 13th of May. It marks the publication of John D Barrow's latest book, 100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know, which answers one hundred essential questions of existence. From winning the lottery, placing bets at the races and escaping from bears, to
sports, Shakespeare, Google, game theory, drunks, divorce settlements and dodgy accounting; from chaos to infinity and everything in between. Barrow writes a regular column for Plus, so you might be lucky enough to see some maths you've seen in Plus live on stage.
The lecture starts at 6pm and you can find directions on the Gresham College website.
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From string theory to maths education via investment banking
If you're worried that a mathematics degree might limit your career options, then there couldn't be a better person to talk to than Steve Hewson. Find out how his varied career has taken him from the lofty heights of theoretical physics, via the trading floor of a major investment bank, into the maths classroom, and has also seen him writing his very own maths book.
Hello, i was just wondering if you need a math credit to become an early childhood educator, and i also would like to know what other things could i become with a math credit because i need to decide now, its my last year of high school. Please help!!! THANKS!
On Friday the 13th, in April 2029, the asteroid Apophis will pass close enough to the Earth to be viewed with the naked eye. This will be an exciting event for stargazers, but for a short time in 2004 there was concern that this event would be cataclysmic. In December 2004 Apophis, named after the Egyptian serpent god who brings darkness to the Earth, was given a 1 in 37 chance of impacting
with the Earth based on initial observations of the asteroid's orbit. Luckily, additional observations showed that the asteroid would just be a near miss in 2029, though there is still a slim chance of an impact during a pass in 2036.
While you breathe a sigh of relief, some people are already making plans for how to deal with any potential armageddons in the future. One such person is David French, a PhD student in aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, who has has determined how to stop asteroids from impacting with the Earth by attaching a massive ball and chain...