Here’s a round-up of some mathematical news from last month.
Abel Prize Awarded
On 25th March, the awards ceremony for the Abel Prize took place in Oslo, Norway. The prize, given by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, is given for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics, and includes a cash prize of 6 million Norwegian Krone (about £500,000). This year the award went to American mathematicians John F Nash, Jr (yes, that John Nash) and Louis Nirenberg, “for striking and seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations and its applications to geometric analysis”.
Probabilistic reasoning does not depend on formal education
This is slightly old, but we found it in the news pile – a study conducted in rural Guatemala found that humans, even without formal training in probability, were able to predict which of two events were more likely, even when complicated conditional probability was involved.
Humans have innate grasp of probability, at Nature
Flatland: An Adventure in Many Dimensions
You may be familiar with the 1884 satirical novella by Edwin A Abbott, set in a two-dimensional universe and providing both social commentary and a wonderful analogy for thinking about three and four-dimensional space. Earlier this month, a team of visually impaired performance artists created an interactive experience, in which the 2D universe was simulated by removing visual information.
The installation took place entirely in the dark, and haptic feedback via robotic devices allowed visitors to explore the space, using radio signals and wifi to control a vibrating cube held by participants. An invited audience of 100 took part in the exhibit, and in groups of four, wearing special suits and interacting with live actors and recorded sounds, were told the story of the book.
The previews, described by one attendee as ‘truly disorienting’, took place over a week in March, with a view to a full public performance in 2018.
via Tarim on Twitter
In an ongoing ‘at it again’-based saga, Dr Eugenia Cheng has come up with yet another mathematical media formula, this time for the perfect aeroplane flight. Travel website Skyscanner has hired Cheng to produce the formula, which takes into account time of day, leg room, and punctuality of the flight (and nothing else) to give a score out of 20. Legroom is measured in inches, and punctuality is (of course) out of 100.