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Podcast: Episode 28 – Maths news with Sarah Shepherd

These are the show notes for episode 28 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 28 is the number of dominoes in a standard dominoes set. More about 28 from NumberADay.

This week on the podcast I met Sarah Shepherd, PhD student at the University of Nottingham and Editor of iSquared Magazine and we discussed some maths news. Links to all the articles we mentioned are below.

‘Maths’ to crack climate change,” an article on the BBC News website about the Numerical Algorithms and Intelligent Software (NAIS) team, a group of Scottish scientists attempting to tackle some of the numerical challenges presented by modern science.

Article in the Guardian, “Go figure … why mathematicians rule the internet,” on algorithms, covering supermarket loyalty cards, shelf stacking, special offers and stock control, traffic lights, the price of low cost flights, air traffic control, Amazon recommendations, Google search results, weather forecasts and radio station playlists.

Piece in the Oxford Mail highlighting the importance of mathematics in fire fighting. Read “Flaming good way to teach maths.”

Piece in the Guardian, “Newly hatched chicks pass maths test,” on basic mathematical skills in newly hatched chicks.

Scientists reveal how eating chocolate can help improve your maths,” a piece in the Telegraph which reports on a study on the effects of flavanols (found in cocoa) on mathematical ability.

Could quantum mathematics shake up Google?“, a piece from the New Scientist which discusses the use of random matrix theory to identify salient words in documents and its potential use in search engine results.

Maths teachers ‘taught to teach’” from the BBC News website reports on a booklet containing advice on teaching mathematics which are being sent to maths teachers in England and some reaction to the booklet.

The report of the suggestion of a government advisory committee that suggests national SATS tests should be phased out. Read “Testing of 11-year-olds should be phased out, advisers tell government” from the Guardian.

Puzzling behaviour: Maths professor finds the formula that will solve ANY Sudoku” from the Daily Mail reports on an article by James Crook, “A Pencil-and-Paper Algorithm for Solving Sudoku Puzzles.”

The story “Salmond stumped by a mother’s maths question” is an interesting one. Since we recorded, there has been an apology from the BBC journalist involved, Brian Davies, in a blog post “To infinity and beyond” where he offers “to one and all, 3.14159265 apologies”. The original story is gone from the Scotsman website at the time of writing these notes, replaced with the seemingly technical error, “The article has been unable to display.” At the time of writing, Google still has a cache of the original story “Salmond stumped by a mother’s maths question – Google Cache“. I have not been able to find any reference to it, or its deletion, on the Scotsman website, apart from in deleted user contributed comments (view Google cache version). Minitrue at work.

The 14th of March was Pi Day. You can read the text of the US Government Bill which officially recognises Pi Day on The Library of Congress THOMAS website by searching for Bill Number “H.RES.224” or for the text “Pi Day”.

The 24th March 2009 was Ada Lovelace Day, in recognition of women in technology. The BBC have a good roundup of what took place.

The International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) in Edinburgh held a maths film festival – watching Hollywood films The Oxford Murders, 21 and N Is A Number, a documentary about Paul Erdös. This was reported in The Scotsman as “Lights, camera, action – maths and the movies adds up to a winning formula“.

I recommended Marcus du Sautoy’s column Sexy Maths in the Times, the latest I had seen was “Sexy maths: the Fibonacci sequence’s prime rate.”

I also recommended the work of David Spiegelhalter through the Understanding Uncertainty website and a piece in Plus, “Understanding uncertainty: 2845 ways of spinning risk.”

I mentioned the Independant guide on Maths at university in which Noel-Ann Bradshaw and I feature. I mentioned Neil Goldwasser, who featured on Episode 7 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast, is now featured on the Maths Careers website.

You can find out about IMA membership grades on the Membership section of the IMA website.

I also mentioned the error I made in episode 9 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast, in which I claim 9 is prime.

You can find out more about iSquared Magazine on the iSquared website.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

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