Articles

Squares do it, triangles do it, even hexagons do it — but pentagons don't. They just won't fit together to tile a flat surface. So are there any tilings based on fiveness? Craig Kaplan takes us through the five-fold tiling problem and uncovers some interesting designs in the process.
Life is full of coincidences, but how do you work out if something is really as unlikely as it seems? In this article Rob Eastaway and John Haigh find chance in church and work out the odds.
Over the last few years the words string theory have nudged their way into public consciousness. It's a theory of everything in which everything's made of strings — or something like that. But why strings? What do they do? Where did the idea come from and why do we need such a theory? David Berman has an equation-free introduction for beginners.

The Plus anniversary year — A word from the editors

League tables are controversial and for good reason. Few things are simple enough to be measured by a single outcome like, for example, the number of exam passes or successful heart operations. But even if we do accept a single yardstick, we haven't yet reckoned with chance, which by itself can produce apparent patterns to delight any tabloid editor.

How does complexity arise from simplicity?
John Napier was a clever man indeed. Besides inventing the logarithm, he developed ingenious calculating devices that fully exploit the power of the positional system. In this article Chris Sangwin tells you how to make your own set of Napier's bones and perform mathemagic with an interactive checker board.
Leonhard Euler, the most prolific mathematician of all time, would have celebrated his 300th birthday this year. In this article, the second in a four-part series on Euler and his work, Abigail Kirk explores one of the formulae that carry his name.