Tonight, in the final televised debate ahead of the election, the three main party leaders will talk about the economy, the recession, public sector debt, spending or cuts, and more. All will use statistics to back up their points or to pull apart their opponents' arguments. But how can we work out whether to believe the figures and what do they really mean?


Being killed in a peacekeeping mission apparently depends on your nationality, at least if you're a soldier in the Spanish army. On the 1st of February 2010 the Colombian soldier John Felipe Romero serving in the Spanish army was killed in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan. It was then made public that so far 43% of the Spanish troops killed in attacks by local forces in Afghanistan and Lebanon have been foreigners. This is in striking contrast to the fact that foreign nationals make up only 7% of the Spanish army as a whole.

Lack of statistical detail leads to wrong conclusions

Genomics is one of the fastest moving areas of science and Gavin Harper, a mathematician and statistician, has put himself right at its centre. He works for Oxford Nanopore Technologies, a company which is developing new technology for analysing molecules and sequencing DNA. With 75 employees from 18 different countries and all sorts of scientific backgrounds, Gavin's work environment is nothing like the solitary paper-and-pencil affair traditionally associated with mathematics.

Stats, damn stats and genetics

We have all become more aware of the dangers of influenza this year, but why is it so dangerous? Julia Gog explains that the unusual structure of the influenza genome can lead to dangerous evolutionary jumps, and how mathematics is helping to understand how the virus replicates.
Making sure that vaccination works
Sandy Black, Professor of Fashion and Textile Design, has combined her love of art and design with her love of mathematics in her career as a knitwear designer. Sandy talks to Plus about the mathematics in fashion, knitting, and how science and fashion could make the world a better place.

One in nine women will get breast cancer in her lifetime, and it seems sensible to screen women for breast cancer to treat them as early as possible. But, as David Spiegelhalter explains, screening is a controversial issue.

Hardly six months go by without a natural disaster striking some part of the globe. While it's next to impossible to predict these catastrophes, let alone prevent them, mathematical modelling gives a way to prepare for their impact. Shane Latchman explains.