News from the world of Maths
Quantum mechanics is usually associated with weird and counterintuitive phenomena we can't observe in real life. But it turns out that quantum processes can occur in living organisms, too, and with very concrete consequences. Some species of birds, for example, use quantum mechanics to navigate. Last year we talked to physicists Simon Benjamin and Erik Gauger, and found out that studying these little creatures' quantum compass may help us achieve the holy grail of computer science: building a quantum computer.
It's been nearly 18 months since the Large Hadron Collider at CERN started up and scientists are eagerly awaiting their first glimpse into the cosmic mysteries it was designed to explore. But when can we realistically expect the first ground-breaking discoveries to come through? Last week, John Ellis, outgoing leader of the theory division at CERN, addressed an audience of physicists at the University of Cambridge to update them on the current state of play. Plus went along and also managed to catch Ellis for a quick interview.
Straight statistics is a campaign set up by journalists and statisticians to improve the use of statistics by government, the media,
companies and everyone else who uses stats. On the Straight Statistics website you can find all sorts of interesting articles responding to
stats as they come up in the news - whether it's lucky house numbers, the impact of bird flu, or your chance to reach your 100th birthday.
Negative numbers are easy to imagine if you think of the number line as
a giant thermometer which includes sub-zero temperatures. This makes
addition and subtraction easy, as you just move up or down the number
line by the according amount.
Sixteen-yeat-old Rebecca Simpson has won a national competition to produce a creative photo connected to maths. The competition was run by Maths Inspiration, who organise maths lecture events in theatres around the country. Rebecca's entry, entitled Box and whiskers, depicts a cat being measured for its level of cuteness. It's a play on box and whiskers diagrams, which will be familiar to any GCSE maths pupil.
Oh, Christmas is so magical! But of course magic often boils down to being surprised. Find out how mathemagicians trade off the fact that you can usually predict precisely the outcome of doing something in mathematics, but only if you know the secret beforehand. Here's for some maths and magic!