Next year is a great one for biology. Not only will we celebrate 150 years since the publication of On the origin of species, but also 200 years since the birth of its author, Charles Darwin. At the heart of Darwin's theory of evolution lies a beautifully simple mathematical object: the evolutionary tree. In this article we look at how maths is used to reconstruct and understand it.
Lewis Dartnell turns the universe into a matrix to model traffic, forest fires and sprawling cities.
According to Darwin, natural selection is the driving force of evolution. It's a beautifully simple idea, but given the thousands of years that are involved, nobody has ever seen it in action. So how can we tell whether or not natural selection occurs and which of our traits are a result of it? In this article Charlotte Mulcare uses milk to show how maths and stats can provide genetic answers.
Generalists can thrive in a world of specialists
How did we evolve our capacity for maths? Does maths piggy-back on our ability for language, or is it a completely separate faculty? Is it dependent on culture? Plus spoke to the cognitive psychologist Rosemary Varley to find some answers.
Is geometry hard-wired into our brain?
Physicist and cosmologist Paul Davies has made an unusual move into the infant discipline of astrobiology. He tells Plus about his interest in the big questions: what is life, how would we recognise aliens - and are they all around us?
Do you need language to do maths?
Researchers have used mathematical modelling to understand the evolution of the influenza virus.
When we finally meet the Martians, John Conway believes they are going to want to talk mathematics. He talks to Plus about his Life game, artificial life and what we will have in common with extraterrestrials.