Have some maths with your Olympics: A new book and three free lectures



If you've been worrying about how to combine the imminent Olympic fever with that other great passion — maths — then salvation is about to arrive. John D Barrow, eminent cosmologist, best selling author and director of the Millennium Mathematics Project (of which Plus is a part), has written a book, 100 essential things you didn't know you didn't know about sport, exploring the maths behind your favourite disciplines. And if you're near London or Cambridge you can see Barrow himself talk about some of its contents — for free!

Cambridge, March 12: As part of the Cambridge Science Festival Barrow will cast a mathematical eye over a wide range of Olympic sporting events. 6pm-7pm, Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, Mill Lane. More information on the festival website.

Cambridge, March 24: Another sporty lecture as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. 12.30pm-1.30pm, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Clarkson Road. More information on the festival website.

London, March 15: Barrow will mark the publication of his book with a free lecture at Gresham College. 6pm, Barnard's Inn Hall, Holborn, London EC1N 2HH. More information on the Gresham College website.

The book 100 essential things you didn't know you didn't know about sport asks what mathematics can tell us about sport. It sheds light on the mysteries of running, jumping, swimming and points scoring across the whole sporting spectrum. Consisting of one hundred short pieces that range across a wide number of sports, it's a great read whether you're a competitor striving to go faster or higher, or an armchair enthusiast wanting to understand more. You can find out why high-jumpers use the Fosbury Flop, how fast Usain Bolt can ultimately run, why there are so many different scoring systems in sport, what the best strategy for taking football penalties is, why golf balls are dimpled, why the bounce of a Superball seems to defy Newton's laws of motion, and much more.

You can buy the book and help Plus at the same time by clicking on the link on the left to purchase from amazon.co.uk, and the link to the right to purchase from amazon.com. Plus will earn a small commission from your purchase.