Flying a plane on a secret mission? Some basic geometry can help you avoid being captured by an adversary.

Play with our applets to explore the conic sections and their different definitions.

A Gömböc is a strange thing. It looks like an egg with sharp edges, and when you put it down it starts wriggling and rolling around as if it were alive. Until quite recently, no-one knew whether Gömböcs even existed. Even now, **Gábor Domokos**, one of their discoverers, reckons that in some sense they barely exists at all. So what are Gömböcs and what makes them special?

Chuck Gill caught the space bug as a child when watching Alan Shepherd launch into space. Since then he's worked as a US Air Force navigator, a satellite operator, and in the US intelligence service. These days he's busy reducing carbon emissions and preparing London for the 2012 Olympics. *Plus* went to see him to find out more about his career.

Why do so many people say they hate mathematics, asks **David Acheson**? The truth, he says, is that most of them have never been anywhere near it, and that mathematicians could do more to change this perception - perhaps by emphasising the element of surprise that so often accompanies mathematics at its best.

In issue 29 of *Plus*, we heard how a simple mathematical equation became the subject of a debate in the UK parliament. **Chris Budd** and **Chris Sangwin** continue the story of the mighty quadratic equation.

It isn't often that a mathematical equation makes the national press, far less popular radio, or most astonishingly of all, is the subject of a debate in the UK parliament. However, as **Chris Budd** and **Chris Sangwin** tell us, in 2003 the good old quadratic equation, which we all learned about in school, reached these dizzy pinnacles of fame.

We've all seen a traditional sundial, where a triangular wedge is used to cast a shadow onto a marked-out dial - but did you know that there is another kind? In this article, **Chris Sangwin** and **Chris Budd** tell us about a different kind of sundial, the analemmatic design, where you can use your own shadow to tell the time.

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) is now chiefly remembered as a mathematical astronomer who discovered three laws that describe the motion of the planets. **J.V. Field** continues our series on the origins of proof with an examination of Kepler's astronomy.