List by Author: Helen Joyce

Life as we don't know itPhysicist and cosmologist Paul Davies has made an unusual move into the infant discipline of astrobiology. He tells Plus about his interest in the big questions: what is life, how would we recognise aliens - and are they all around us?
Curious quaternionsMathematician 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 first of two articles, he talks about connections between algebra and geometry, and the importance of lateral thinking in mathematics.
Mathematical mysteries: Transcendental meditation

Nineteenth-century German mathematician Leopold Kronecker once said

God created the integers, all the rest is the work of man.

Natural born mathematiciansNeuropsychologist Brian Butterworth tells us about research showing that even newborn babies have a basic understanding of number. It seems we are all mathematicians!
Mathematical mysteries: Strange Geometries

The famous mathematician Euclid is credited with being the first person to axiomatise the geometry of the world we live in - that is, to describe the geometric rules which govern it. Based on these axioms, he proved theorems - some of the earliest uses of proof in the history of mathematics.

Adam Smith and the invisible handAdam Smith is often thought of as the father of modern economics. In his book "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" Smith decribed the "invisible hand" mechanism by which he felt economic society operated. Modern game theory has much to add to Smith's description.
Mathematical mysteries: Chomp

Chomp is a simple two-dimensional game, played as follows.
Cookies are set out on a rectangular grid. The bottom left cookie is poisoned.
Two players take it in turn to "chomp" - that is, to eat one of the remaining cookies, plus all the cookies above and to the right of that cookie.

Faster than light

Scientists at the NEC Research Institute in Princeton have carried out an experiment in which a pulse of light appeared to emerge from a cloud of gas before it even entered.

  • Want facts and want them fast? Our Maths in a minute series explores key mathematical concepts in just a few words.