It's not long until Christmas! To help you pass the time (or ease your nerves if you're stressed), we bring you the Plus advent calendar with a mathsy goody from the Plus archive lurking behind each door. Find out what's behind today's door...


What do Gollum, the new Olympic stadium that's being built in London and the quest for sustainable energy have in common? They all involve the work of engineers. Engineering provides some of the most exciting applications of maths there are, and they impact on all our lives every day. To highlight the importance and excitement of engineering, we are launching the Constructing our lives project, which will bring you articles and podcasts on engineering, directly from the engineers themselves.

This teacher package brings together all our articles that have to do with sport, from cricket to football and from the sport itself to sporting architecture and infrastructure.

"Mathematics is biology's next microscope, only better." That's what the scientist Joel E Cohen once said of the power of mathematics to revolutionise biology and the biomedical sciences. And he was right. Maths enables scientists to understand complex organisms and diseases, it's crucial in developing sophisticated medical technology and materials, and we can even use it to model our psyche and intelligence. In this sense maths has become a genuine research instrument for biomedical sciences. The insight it gives them are on a par with the revolutionising power of the microscope.

Journey to the frontiers of maths with Plus as we cover the International Congress of Mathematics in Hyderabad, India

Understand the maths behind health and medicine. Read the latest and join the debate!

Infectious diseases hardly ever disappear from the headlines — swine flu is only the last in a long list containing SARS, bird flu, HIV, and childhood diseases like mumps, measles and rubella. If it's not the disease itself that hits the news, then it's the vaccines with their potential side effects. It can be hard to tell the difference between scare mongering and responsible reporting,
because media coverage rarely provides a look behind the scenes. So how do scientists reach the conclusions they do?

One of the greatest advances in the biomedical sciences has been the unravelling of our genetic code. This new understanding sheds light on what makes organisms function and how they are related to each other, helps to combat diseases, and to convict criminals. But it also poses great mathematical challenges: the genetic revolution is an information explosion which can only be tamed using mathematical methods.