Category Archive: Mathematics

Numbers are meaningless

Although not the nicest of men Francis Galton was also a bit of a hero of numbers, drawing them into the human domain, and developing ideas such as correlation. Unfortunately, an heir to… Continue reading

Why not knot wire?

I have been thinking quite a bit recently about ideas of knotting and weaving. There will probably be another post on the theme soon. As a mathematician it brought me straight back to… Continue reading

Arrange whatever pieces come your way

(with apologies to Virginia Wolff) A simple, classic puzzle is to give two shapes and ask if there is a way to cut one up so the pieces can be rearranged into the… Continue reading

Game theory: mathematics as metaphor

Last semester I offered my students $1,000,000 dollars. They turned me down. This was lucky, despite the money and glamour of academic mathematics, I do not have a million dollars. The game was… Continue reading

Islamic Geometry

Marc Pelletier is a geometric artist, one of the visionaries behind the amazing Zometool system and the designer and builder of 120-cell models including one given to John Conway at Princeton  and one… Continue reading

Mathematical Scales

Thanks to the move to the US, my son has a new piano teacher. He is playing at an advanced level, beyond grade 8 (for the UK audience), with pieces by Bach, Mozart… Continue reading

Mathematics is vital!

[This is a painful post to write and probably to read, I attempt to soften the blow by including some geometric construction projects I have been working on!] I write this as a… Continue reading

Computers beat the devil?

I am a little behind the times on this, but Dave Richeson recently posted a quote from Michael Atiyah: Algebra is the offer made by the devil to the mathematician. The devil says:… Continue reading

Icosahedral Tiling Model

Following on from the “How do shapes fill space?” exhibit at the RSSE last year, the Science Museum accepted our offer of some of the zometool models. There were three classics, the 120-cell,… Continue reading

Markets and Mushrooms

I am at a conference in China and a couple of days ago we visited the market in the centre of Guangzhou. I took the chance to take some photos: Some of it… Continue reading

Would an Alternative Vote make a difference?

[Update 10/5/10: For a far less back of the envelope calculation, based on a poll including second intention rather than guesswork, you can look at this study from the Electoral Reform Society. They… Continue reading

Carnival of Mathematics #65

Consider two numbers with no common factors, and take the sum of their squares : In many cases the result is a prime, twice a prime, a prime power, or twice a prime… Continue reading