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Wolfram|Alpha can’t. But CP can!

For a while, I’ve been following this cool Twitter account that tweets questions Wolfram|Alpha can’t answer. The genius of it is that the questions all look like things that you could half-imagine the solution algorithm for at a glance, and many of them look like the kinds of questions Wolfram like to give as examples when they’re showing off how clever their system is.

Questions like this:

The answer to that is 278. How do I know that? I know that because I went on a little problem-solving binge answering the questions that Wolfram|Alpha can’t.

Turing round-up, February 2015

I just want to be done with Alan Turing posts, but stuff keeps happening. Here’s a very brief round-up of some recent Turing news:

There’s a petition to Pardon all convicted gay men, not just Alan Turing. Sign it or don’t or write 12,000 words hemming and hawing about it all. Up to you.

This is actually really interesting: some “Banbury sheets”, invented by Alan Turing to make breaking naval Enigma codes go quicker (here’s some more info on how that works by Tony Sale) have been found stuffed in the roof of Hut 6 at Bletchley Park.

The UK government is putting together a mega-huge new Alan Turing Institute for Data Science, combining support from all sorts of universities and research organisations. The Guardian tells us that it’s going to be based at the British Library in London, while the Manchester Evening News laments that the University of Manchester, where Turing worked after the war, has not been selected to be an official part of the Institute.



Here’s a new product vying to knock the set square off its throne as Least Useful Tool in the Pencil Case.

CoordiMate is a rubber stamp which prints a teeny tiny set of axes. It’s supposed to help you with your homework.

… for the week or two that you spend learning how to graph functions.

It’s currently the subject of a Kickstarter hoping to raise $25,000 so it can go into full production. Just watch this pitch video.

Happy Birthday, MAA!

With all the attention we’ve been giving the LMS’s 150th birthday celebrations, it’s only fair to note that the Mathematical Association of America is 100 this year.

The MAA is a fantastic organisation, as the famous maths people in this video testify:

As is the way of these things, there are events throughout the year to celebrate the MAA’s centennial; all the info is on the MAA’s website. The main event is the MAA’s annual MathFest, which is happening in Washington, D.C. at the start of August.


This post popped into our news queue just before Christmas, and was forgotten about thanks to the seasonal good cheer. Well, it’s 2015 now, and our Nonsense Formula Disapprove-o-Matic is beeping angrily. We still can’t muster up enough enthusiasm to properly dig into this, so I’ve just tidied up the links I collected earlier on.

Eugenia Cheng (of nonsense formulas passim) has “found” the formula for the perfect doughnut, for Domino’s Pizza. Coincidentally, they’ve recently started selling doughnuts.

Actually, “formula” should be in quotes as well – the “formula” she gives is, drumroll…

\[ \frac{(r-2)^2}{4(r-1)} \]

Note that that’s not a formula.