Consumers, financial institutions, and most importantly regulators did not understand the risks being taken in the financial markets. That was one of the main causes of the current financial crisis according to the Government white paper, Reforming the financial markets, released last week. It is clear to all players in the financial market that they need to make more accurate assessments of
the risks they and others are taking. But will they be able to take the more scientific approach needed for a deeper understanding of financial risks, when they were so easily bewitched by unproven claims that you can turn financial lead into gold?
Scientists/cricket geeks have shown that the weather has a significant effect on the results of the Ashes cricket series between Australia and England when the series is held in Australia. The Australian cricket team is more likely to succeed after El Niño years, while the English cricket team does better following La Niña years, the opposite phase when the weather is cooler and wetter. But
how significant is this effect and should the teams change their strategies accordingly?
Did Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really win a landslide election on the 12th of June 2009? Many believe that he didn't, but only a full election re-run scrutinised by independent observers would bring absolute certainty. With this possibility thoroughly off the cards, as the Guardian Council has made clear, some analysts have had a long and hard look at the figures released by the very government
accused of doing the rigging, to see if they reveal evidence of fraud.
My name is R. Mansilla. I work at National Autonomous University of Mexico. After professor Mebane, we used Benford Law to test a fraud in the 2006 presidential election here in Mexico. The results could be found at:
Fancy crashing through the sound barrier in a rocket propelled car that goes all the way up to 1000mph? Well, we can't give you that experience, but we can get you as close as any maths magazine ever will. Last week we interviewed Andy Green, currently the fastest man on Earth (and Oxford maths graduate), who's now gearing up to break his own land speed record in his Bloodhound SSC — a pencil
shaped car powered by a Eurofighter aircraft engine. The car is currently being simulated on super computers, exploiting the full power of computational fluid dynamics and all sorts of other bits of engineering maths, and it's just about to move into the construction phase.
You will be able to read our interview and an article on the maths that makes Bloodhound possible in the September issue of Plus, but meanwhile go and visit the Bloodhound SSC website. It tells you all there is to know about this engineering adventure, the car, and the team behind it. There's a substantial education programme associated to the
project — you can sign up for engineering and maths based teaching resources, from instructions to build your own balloon powered car to experimenting with the speed of sound. You can also sign up for an email newsletter, or follow Bloodhound on Twitter.
Last week's BBC programme The price of life highlighted the plight of cancer sufferers awaiting a decision by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, on a new drug that could add years to their lives. If approved by NICE, the drug, called revlimid and used to treat a cancer called multiple myeloma, could be
prescribed freely on the NHS. If rejected, the prohibitive cost would spell the end of the line for many patients. In the light of the suffering facing myeloma patients and their families, the main criterion for NICE's decisions — cost-effectiveness — seems almost inhumane. But exactly what kind of mathematical considerations go into NICE's calculations?