public image of mathematics
Stephen Hawking was once told by an editor that every equation in a book would halve the sales. Curiously, the opposite seems to happen when it comes to research papers. Include a bit of maths in the abstract (a kind of summary) and people rate your paper higher — even if the maths makes no sense at all.
The 6th European Congress of Mathematics, which took place in Krakow at the beginning of July, wasn't just about mathematicians talking to each other. On the streets of Krakow maths buskers were entertaining the public, handcuffing innocent Krakowians, constructing emergency pentagons and reading minds. So what is maths busking all about? We caught up with Sara Santos, the director of the project, and one of her volunteers to find out.
Plus has teamed up with the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2011 to reveal the maths behind some of the science on show. We have chosen two exhibits from this year's participants and produced postcards for people to pick up at the stand, accopmanied by Plus articles to reveal some of the the maths behind them. Read the articles and if you can't make it to the exhibition yourself, you can also download pdfs of the postcards.