A massive earthquake hit Japan earlier today, registering 8.9 on the Richter scale and the largest ever recorded for Japan. The tsunami triggered by the quake brought a 10m high wall of water in northern Japan, and other countries are now waiting for it to hit their shores.
But what causes earthquakes and tsunamis and what can we do to protect ourselves from their destructive power?
When you try to put democracy into action you quickly run into tricky maths problems. This is what happened to Andrew Duff, rapporteur for the European Constitutional Affairs Committee, who was charged with finding a fair way of allocating seats of the European Parliament to Member States. Wisely, he went to ask the experts: last year he approached mathematicians at the University of Cambridge to help come up with a solution. A committee of mathematicians from all over Europe was promptly formed and today it has published its recommendation.
Almost nothing tangible remains of the legendary Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing. So when an extremely rare collection of papers relating to his life and work was set to go to auction last year, an ambitious campaign was launched to raise funds to purchase them for the Bletchley Park Trust and its Museum. The Trust has announced today that the collection has been saved for the nation as the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has stepped in quickly to provide £213,437, the final piece of funding required.
It requires only a little processing power, but it's a giant leap for robotkind: engineers at the University of Southampton have developed a way of equipping spacecraft and satellites with human-like reasoning capabilities, which will enable them to make important decisions for themselves.
There's a new special episode of one of our favourite maths podcasts — Math/Maths, produced by Peter Rowlett and Samuel Hansen. Peter talks to Ruby Childs, a recent maths graduate who is interested in what makes people like mathematics for an essay she is writing. She's particularly interested in why people chose to study maths further. You can listen to the podcast and join the debate!
John D. Barrow is continuing his public lecture tour to promote his new Book of Universes. You can catch him at Gresham College in London on March 1st (admission free) and at the Bath Literary Festival on February 27th (admission £7, concession £6).