Bells can do a lot more than just jingle! In fact, being a decent bell ringer requires razor-sharp mathematical precision and a vast memory. And just 16 bells are enough to provide your neighbours with over a million years of non-repeating bellish amusement. Find out how with Ringing the changes.

## Plus Blog

Today the Nobel Prize award ceremonies will be held in Sweden! And while there may not be a Nobel Prize for maths, most of the science laureates' achievements would be impossible without it. Find out why with our stories on some of this and past years' Nobel Prizes:

- 2010: And the Nobel Prize in Mathematics goes to...
- 2009: Leaving the markets
- 2008: Born from broken symmetry
- 2007: Nobel Prizes won by mathematicians
- 2006: Winning background research
- 2005: Game theory wins Nobel Prize
- 2002: Nobel mathematics

Maths has its very own important prize of course, called the Fields Medal. This year *Plus* was proud to be present at the International Congress of Mathmaticians in India, where the medals were awarded. Find out all about what we got up to with our news coverage from the congress, including interviews with some of the medallists in our podcasts.

And if you still haven't got enough of prizes, have a look at our coverage of previous Fields Medals, as well as the Abel Prize.

Maths is the language of the universe: not only does it describe how the universe works, it also may be the secret weapon in the hunt for extraterrestrial life. And if we find them, maths might also provide the ideal way to break the ice with our little green friends from across the sky...

Hunting for life in alien worlds

Two of the most fundamental questions asked by people are how life emerged on the Earth, and whether we are alone in the cosmos. These deeply important questions form the core of a new kind of science, one that recently has been rapidly gathering momentum: astrobiology. You can also read more in Lewis Dartnell's excellent book Life in the Universe. And you can even hear Lewis talk about the science behind the latest aliens to hit the big screen in Monsters!

Life as we don't know it

Physicist and cosmologist Paul Davies is also doing research in astrobiology. He tells *Plus* about his interest in the big questions: what is life, how would we recognise aliens - and are they all around us?

Mathematics for aliens

It has often been observed that mathematics is astonishingly effective as a tool for understanding the universe. But why should this be? Is mathematics a universal truth, and how would we tell?

Games, Life and the Game of Life

When we finally meet the Martians, John Conway believes they are going to want to talk mathematics. He talks to *Plus* about his *Life* game, artificial life and what we will have in common with extraterrestrials.

Pi appears in crop circle

If these are alien calling cards, then we can be sure they are keen mathematicians.

How does Santa manage to squeeze through chimneys? How do reindeers manage to fly? When will I get the Christmas shopping done? These things are mysteries, so in keeping with the mood, Door 8 opens on some of our favourite mysteries from the world of maths.

Forget the shopping and join us in musing over Achilles and the tortoise, exotic geometries, the paradoxical barber and whether being nice to others is just for Christmas, or a good survival strategy.

What would Christmas be without the unlimited eating? And as it turns out, maths helps it all to go down well. Find out how with Eat, drink and be merry and our interview with a fluid mechanics researcher.

You can also learn how to make the perfect pizza, how your national cuisine evolved, and why bacon sandwiches aren't really that bad for you.

'Tis the season for Christmas carols, so Door #6 opens on the magical mathematics of music...