## News from the world of Maths

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.

If you're in London on Tuesday the 15th of February, then why not take a journey into other worlds with John D. Barrow at the Royal Institution? Barrow will tell a story that revolves around a single extraordinary fact: that Albert Einstein's famous theory of relativity describes a series of entire universes.

Squeamish about cuts and scrapes? Maths can help you feel better.

Here's a fact: take the year you were born in (only the last two digits, as in '85), add your age and then (probably) add 1. The answer is ... 111!

This seems to have been making the rounds lately. Some people marvel at the fact that the answer is always 111 no matter how old you are and others think that 2011 is the only year in which this will work. Looks like mathematical magic!

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.