Dispersion lies at the heart of many dramatic phenomena - explore the maths that explains it!

If you've ever marvelled at a rainbow, you have witnessed dispersion in action!

Ripples on a pond, the swell of ocean waves, your favourite song – these can all be described using sine waves. But how do we describe a sine wave?

Ocean waves are not moving walls of water. Instead, it's some kind of energy that moves along. But then, what happens to the water itself? This isn't just an idle question to ponder while watching the ocean — its answer may help protect us from it too. And it requires some sophisticated maths.

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?

Not so long ago, if you had a medical complaint, doctors had to open you up to see what it was. These days they have a range of sophisticated imaging techniques at their disposal, saving you the risk and pain of an operation. Chris Budd and Cathryn Mitchell look at the maths that isn't only responsible for these medical techniques, but also for much of the digital revolution.
Adrian Bird, a performance engineer at Rolls Royce, tells Plus that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. You can follow your dreams to do maths and it can lead you to the skies.
What happens to bent pasta?
According to Shakespeare, music is the food of love. But Jeffrey Rosenthal follows Galileo's observation that the entire universe is written in the language of mathematics - and that includes music.
The tsunami of December 26th 2004 has focused the world's attention on this terrifying consequence of an underwater earthquake. Michael McIntyre explores the underlying wave mathematics.
Frances Elwell looks at the eddies and currents, from the pungent problem of sewage outflow to the search for bodies of people who have fallen into rivers, explaining that fluid mechanics lies behind it all.
  • Want facts and want them fast? Our Maths in a minute series explores key mathematical concepts in just a few words.