Mathematicians and psychologists don't cross paths that often and when they do you wouldn't expect it to involve an (apparently) unassuming puzzle like the Tower of Hanoi. Yet, the puzzle holds fascination in both fields.
Ocean waves are not moving walls of water. Instead, it's some kind of energy that moves along. But then, what happens to the water itself? This isn't just an idle question to ponder while watching the ocean — its answer may help protect us from it too. And it requires some sophisticated maths.
If there's one bit of maths you remember from school it's probably Pythagoras' theorem. But what's a Pythagorean triple? How many triples are there and how do you find them? And what about quadruples, quintuples, sextuples....
In March 2011 a highly respected psychology journal published a paper claiming to provide evidence
for extra-sensory perception (ESP). The claim was based largely on the
results of a very common statistical procedure called significance testing. The experiments
provide an excellent way into looking at how significance testing
works and at what's problematic about it.
In the previous article we looked at a psychological study which claims to provide evidence that certain types of extra-sensory perception exist, using a statistical method called significance testing. But do the results of the study really justify this conclusion?
When NASA first decided to put a man on the Moon they had a problem: once the Apollo spacecraft was in flight, they would not be able to observe its exact location and neither would they be able to predict it using physics. How could they send astronauts to the Moon if they didn't know where they were? An ingenious mathematician came up with an answer.