Plus Blog

January 12, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Maths for mums and dads

In a survey published last week 79% of parents revealed that maths homework frequently leads to conflict and arguments in the household, and a third of those surveyed admitted that they avoid helping their children with their maths homework. Over 40% of parents proved unable to work out the answer to a question that a 10-year-old might be expected to solve in a national test. (Alex thinks of a number. He adds half of the number to a quarter of the number. The result is 60. What was the number Alex first thought of?) What's more, over 50% admitted to not being able to teach their kids basic maths techniques used in primary school, including division by chunking, the grid method, or number bonds?.

The survey questioned a random sample of 1000 parents who have children aged 6 -11 years. It was commissioned by Random House Group to coincide with the publication of a new book by Plus author Rob Eastaway and Mike Askew. Maths for Mums and Dads is designed to help parents come to grips with the techniques children are now taught at school and to give parents an insight into why children make mistakes. Look out for a review in the next issue of Plus or buy now from Amazon.

Read more from Rob Eastaway on Plus...

posted by Plus @ 3:40 PM

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January 8, 2010
Friday, January 08, 2010

How long will it be until climate change brings tropical butterflies, exotic birds, or malaria-infested mosquitoes to UK shores? A team of US scientists has come a step closer to an answer by estimating the speed of climate change: the distance animal and plant species would have to migrate every year to maintain a constant temperature in their surroundings. According to the team's study, recently published in the journal Nature, the global mean of this speed is 0.42 km per year, but the study also points to important differences between types of habitat. Mountain species will be able to move slower, a predicted 0.11 km a year, since temperature varies quickly as you move up and down a mountain slope. Ecosystems from flooded grass lands and savannas, however, may have to shift by as much as 1.26 km a year to keep their temperature constant.

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posted by Plus @ 12:23 PM

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December 22, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Researchers working on the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiment (CDMS) received an early Christmas gift last week when their detectors spotted evidence for the existence of dark matter, the mysterious substance that is believed to make up 25% of our Universe. The detectors, sitting half a mile underground in a disused mine in northern Minnesota, detected two events that may be results of dark matter particles bouncing off other atomic nuclei. It's the first time that such events were recorded by CDMS, and while they don't provide conclusive proof that dark matter exists, the detections have caused a stir in the scientific community.

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posted by Plus @ 11:54 AM

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December 18, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009

In our last 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 long a day is. We took the question to the physicist Nicholas Mee and here is his answer — and it's not 24 hours!

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posted by Plus @ 3:14 PM

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At 9:51 PM,  Quantum_Flux said...

Nice, but shouldn't that analemma be shifted left by a few minutes to the intersection coincides with zero minutes?

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December 18, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009

If you are looking for something to while away the holiday, then this issue has plenty of ideas for you! We explore the power of origami to solve ancient (and very modern) problems, find the maths in fashion, and marvel at the complexities of church bell ringing. But it's not all fun and games, as we investigate the controversies surrounding breast screening and the maths behind drug-induced hallucinations, find out how to predict the impact of natural catastrophes, and answer some deep questions about the Universe.

Read issue 53 of Plus!

posted by Plus @ 3:55 PM

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December 11, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009

In our 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 if time travel is allowed. We took the question to Kip Thorne, Feynmann Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology, and here is his answer.

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posted by Plus @ 11:05 AM

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At 2:00 PM,  Ray said...

I know a little GR; but no Quantum Gravity and very little QM.
I interpret the article as saying that the consensus is: Quantum Gravity can not be fit into Godel's time-closed solution to GR. Is that correct? In that case the global topology would constrain the deeper theories. Put another way Quantum Mechanics can not be embedded/formulated on an arbitrary manifold.
These are questions; not statements.
Ray

At 9:25 PM,  Quantum_Flux said...

It is the same thing for observer 1 to rapidly travel into the past as it is for observer 2 to rapidly travel into the future.

At 3:38 PM,  Ray said...

I read references 2,3
3 is quite readable.
2 is tougher and I am not through.
The idea that some local properties can't be extended globally in some topologies is not as strange as it might seem at first glance; there are other examples.
I do have doubts about some of the reasoning; but that doesn't fault the reasoning just the presumptions.
I think its possible that the "energy conditions" are not the right analysis tool. Something along the lines of Entropy (Maxwell's daemon ) might be sharper in the mathematical sense.
Ray

At 5:32 PM,  The Grin Reaper said...

Th relation to Casimir vacuums was fascinating. So is the solidarity of Hawking's argument.
Although the possibilities of time travel would lead to the age old grandfather paradox, and I am not sure as to what would be a right explanation. Maybe the Copenhagen interpretation of splitting states to maintain Quantum decoherence.
Cannot say anything conclusively.

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