News from the world of Maths

August 9, 2012

It's a great day for individual dressage today with the Grand Prix freestyle test taking place in Greenwich Park. It's amazing how those horses can perform elegant and complicated movements without getting their legs in a muddle. Coming to think of it, it's amazing that they can even go through their innate gaits without getting their legs in a muddle, given that there's four of them and they are very long. And what about animals who've got even more legs?

August 8, 2012

Today the men's table tennis teams will be battling for gold. Table tennis first became an Olympic sport in 1988, but changed its scoring system in 2001 to make matches more exciting for spectators. But how do the old and new scoring systems compare in terms of favouring skill versus luck?

August 7, 2012

It's the very last medal day for track cycling! If you've been watching, you might have noticed the steep banks of the elegant wooden cycling track. And you may have been impressed by the sweeping curved roof and beautiful cedar clad exterior of the Velodrome, the first of the 2012 London Olympic venues to be completed.

August 6, 2012

Today's a great day for badminton with gold medals being awarded in the men's singles and doubles. This got us thinking about shuttlecocks. They are not like balls at all and this means that they don't behave like balls either. John D. Barrow, mathematician, cosmologist and prolific popular science writer, explains.

August 3, 2012

A new mathematical analysis of how to hit a winning serve shows that spin is the thing. Perhaps there's still time for Murray's coach to include some maths in his preparations for the match today...

August 2, 2012

The men's lightweight fours and the women's eights are going to compete for medals today, but are they sitting in the right place? Usually you expect to find rowers positioned in a symmetrical fashion, alternately right-left, right-left as you go from one end of the boat to the other. However, the regularity of the rower's positions hides a significant asymmetry that affects the way the boat will move through the water.

August 2, 2012

Usain Bolt is determined to become a legend this weekend, by running the 100m in 9.4 seconds. But what does mathematics have to say about this quest? Is there an ultimate limit which no runner can possibly surpass? If there is one, where would such a limit lie? For instance, is there a sub 9 second record in the offing?

August 1, 2012

Some very exciting medals are going to be won today, including the women's 200m butterfly and the men's 100m freestyle. But we're unlikely to see the rush of record-breaking performances we saw in Beijing in 2008 — that's because in 2008 many swimmers benefited from controversial performance swim suits, which have now been banned. But how did these suits improve performance?