Plus Blog

January 13, 2016

Having spent the summer of 1993 on a student placement in a gravitational wave lab, I am finding it very hard to stay calm about the rumours that we may have finally detected gravitational waves. Whispers from a few months ago have built to excited headlines this week that LIGO may have detected gravitational waves produced by the merger of two black holes.

We've poked and prodded our contacts in the field but they don't want to comment at this stage – although it seems the rumours are solid and the scientists themselves are getting quite excited. We'll just have to be patient and wait for the LIGO team to analyse their data, which, to be fair, they only finished collecting yesterday. Stay tuned for an announcement over the coming months. And while you're waiting, you can read, watch and listen to some of our favourite physicists talking about black holes and gravitational waves.

What is a black hole? — One of the strangest prediction of general relativity is that the Universe contains black holes. We asked cosmologist Pau Figueras everything you've ever wanted to know about them. Read the articles (What is a black hole – physically? and What is a black hole – mathematically?), listen to the podcasts or watch the video!

How does gravity work? — We explore Newton's gravity, Einstein's gravity and the ripples in space-time called gravitational waves.

What is general relativity? — Physicist David Tong explains the theory and the equation that expresses it. Watch the video or read the article!

Catching waves with Kip Thorne — What happens when one black hole meets another? Kip Thorne shows us how to eavesdrop on these cosmic events by watching for telltale gravitational waves.

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December 24, 2015

We're there, we're there, we're nearly there!

clock

Tomorrow is Christmas day! We know just how hard it is to pass those last 24 hours before the presents appear under the tree, so we have a little game for you to while away the time. Take turns in moving the hands of the clock, and the first person to reach midnight wins. You can play the game using this interactivity on Wild Maths. There you can also get some help to find a winning strategy, and find further questions to explore.

Happy Christmas!

Wild Maths encourages students to explore maths beyond the classroom and is designed to nurture mathematical creativity. The site is aimed at 7 to 16 year-olds, but open to all. It provides games, investigations, stories and spaces to explore, where discoveries are to be made. Some have starting points, some a big question and others offer you a free space to investigate.

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December 23, 2015

A huge thank you to Emma Morgan for our favourite idea for Christmas cards – Sierpinski Christmas trees!

Creating these lovely cards is just a matter of simple folding and cutting – there's still time to make some for the big day! You can find out how in Emma's video. And you can find out many more creative things you can do with folding and cutting on Wild Maths.

Wild Maths encourages students to explore maths beyond the classroom and is designed to nurture mathematical creativity. The site is aimed at 7 to 16 year-olds, but open to all. It provides games, investigations, stories and spaces to explore, where discoveries are to be made. Some have starting points, some a big question and others offer you a free space to investigate.

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December 22, 2015
squares

Think of a number, square it and subtract your starting number. Is there something special about the number you are left with?

Play around with this question for a while and then visit Wild Maths for some help or a further challenge.

Wild Maths encourages students to explore maths beyond the classroom and is designed to nurture mathematical creativity. The site is aimed at 7 to 16 year-olds, but open to all. It provides games, investigations, stories and spaces to explore, where discoveries are to be made. Some have starting points, some a big question and others offer you a free space to investigate.

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December 21, 2015
chess

Not just fun and games.

Playing games is fun — and it's obvious that being good at maths can help you in many difficult games, such as chess. But mathematicians like games for another reason too. They are interested in games because they can help us understand why we humans (and other animals) behave as we do. A whole area of mathematics, called game theory, has been developed to cast some light on our behaviour, especially the way we make decisions. To find out more, and to see how game theory can help understand a nuclear arms race, read this article.

This article was inspired by content on Wild Maths, which encourages students to explore maths beyond the classroom and is designed to nurture mathematical creativity. The site is aimed at 7 to 16 year-olds, but open to all. It provides games, investigations, stories and spaces to explore, where discoveries are to be made. Some have starting points, some a big question and others offer you a free space to investigate.

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December 20, 2015
trisecting the angle

A famous problem of antiquity is to divide a given angle into three equal parts using just a compass and a straightedge. People tried very hard to solve this problem, until it was eventually proven that you can't. A compass and a straightedge just aren't enough to trisect any given angle.

Surprisingly, however, you can trisect an angle using origami. Just a few folds on a piece of paper and you're done. See this article on Wild Maths to find out how.

Wild Maths encourages students to explore maths beyond the classroom and is designed to nurture mathematical creativity. The site is aimed at 7 to 16 year-olds, but open to all. It provides games, investigations, stories and spaces to explore, where discoveries are to be made. Some have starting points, some a big question and others offer you a free space to investigate.

Return to the Plus Advent Calendar

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