In 1999 solicitor Sally Clark was found guilty of murdering her two baby sons. Highly flawed statistical arguments may have been crucial in securing her conviction. As her second appeal approaches, Plus looks at the case and finds out how courts deal with statistics.
Sherman Stein's motivation for writing this book grew out of a course on the history of calculus for undergraduates he taught for several years. Before that, like most of us, he didn't know where Archimedes' reputation as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time had come from - and now he wants us to know too.
First the executive summary: read these excellent books, and make sure all your friends and relations and bright pupils (if you are a teacher) or teachers (if a bright pupil) do so too. Mathematical Vistas (MV) is the sequel to the same authors' earlier Mathematical Reflections (MR). Each book is a series of explorations of mathematical topics, informed by a definite idea of what mathematics is, and how it should be taught.
This book is by the same authors as "Why do buses come in threes?", which was reviewed in Issue 10 of Plus. Like its predecessor, it consists of entertaining and thoughtprovoking questions on topics not obviously related to maths, and a discussion of each. The authors say that "give us a topic that we care about, and we all become mathematicians", and set out to prove it.
In the real world, balls bounce and water splashes because of the laws of physics. In computer games, a physics engine ensures the virtual world behaves realistically. Mathematician and computer programmer Nick Gray tells us about playing God in a virtual world.
Theoretical physicists are searching for a 'Theory of Everything' to reconcile quantum mechanics and relativity - the two great physical theories of the twentieth century. String theory is a current hot favourite, and some of the world's most eminent physicists tell us why.