Plus Blog

August 4, 2016

Mmmmm... MathsJammmm... (Image PatríciaRCC BY-SA 3.0)

Good news for all those who love maths and trying out puzzles, games, problems and generally cool and interesting maths type things! The Annual MathsJam Conference is on this November! A number of talks have already been proposed including teaching tiny horses to count, cheese, pizza and other food based problems, unreal real numbers, and a newly discovered thing. There's also a baking competition, a competition competition (yes, and it makes total sense), a t-shirt competition, and lots of good stuff. You can register here, as well as find out how to offer a talk, an activity, competition or cake if so inspired – have fun Jammers!

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May 27, 2016

Nira Chamberlain uses maths to solve difficult problems in engineering and industry. He tells us how solving these problems can be like fighting an invisible boxer, and how he loves the feeling of having succeeded — because "the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory!"

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April 29, 2016

Vicky Neale loves maths because it's a real challenge. Find out about two of her favourite mathematical experiences and why she thinks that maths is an adventure that requires some daring.

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April 22, 2016

Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb has a fascinating job: she works on the mathematics behind image analysis. It finds application in all sorts of areas, from medical imaging, such as MRI scans, to forest ecology, which sees scientists trying to gain information about forests from pictures taken from the air.

In this brief interview Carola tells us why she likes doing maths, recalls some of her favourite mathematical moments, and explains why creativity is essential in mathematics.

You can read more about her work in What the eye can't see and Restoring profanity.

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March 24, 2016

Mathematicians often say that being creative is hugely important in maths. But why? We asked mathematician Katie Steckles, who told us about her favourite mathematical moments and why imagination is everything.

Mathematical moments is a series of short interviews with mathematicians about their work and the role of creativity in maths. This is the first interview of the series — stay tuned for more! The video will also appear on our sister site Wild Maths, which encourages students to explore maths beyond the classroom and is designed to nurture mathematical creativity.

March 14, 2016

It’s March 14th, which in the US is written as 3/14 — and since 3.14 are the first three digits of that most famous of mathematical constants, $\pi $, today is celebrated internationally as pi day.

Coin rolling

How many revolutions will the smaller circle make when rolling around the bigger one?

The number $\pi $ is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. To celebrate this lovely number, here’s a little puzzle to ponder. Imagine a circle with radius 1 cm rolling completely along the circumference of a circle with radius 4 cm. How many rotations does the smaller circle make?

The circumference of a circle with radius $r$ is $2\pi r$, so the circumference of a circle with radius $4r$ would be $8\pi r$. Since

$8\pi r \div 2\pi r = 4,$

it seems the answer must be four revolutions. But that’s not true! The answer is actually 5! Can you figure out why?

We found out about this curious question from Yutaka Nishiyama, a mathematical friend in Japan. You can read about the answer in his article Circles rolling on circles. Happy puzzling!