Did you know that you can't average averages? Or that Paris is rainier than London ... but it rains more in London than in Paris? Andrew Stickland explores the dangers that face the unwary when using a single number to summarise complex data.
Mathematician and physicist John Baez declares himself fascinated by exceptions in mathematics. This interest has led him to study the octonions, and, through them, to find out more about the origins of complex numbers and quaternions. In the second of two articles, he talks about the characters of the different dimensions, beauty and utility in mathematics, and just why he likes dimension
8 so much.
Many people find no beauty and pleasure in maths - but, as Lewis Dartnell explains, our brains have evolved to take pleasure in rhythm, structure and pattern. Since these topics are fundamentally mathematical, it should be no surprise that mathematical methods can illuminate our aesthetic sense.
Frances Elwell looks at the eddies and currents, from the pungent problem of sewage outflow to the search for bodies of people who have fallen into rivers, explaining that fluid mechanics lies behind it all.