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App review: Incredible Numbers, by Ian Stewart

Mathematician and author Professor Ian Stewart, helped by Touch Press and his publisher Profile Books, has recently released a new app for iOS (suitable for use on an iPad) called Incredible Numbers. We saw this tweet:

and how could we resist? We borrowed a nearby iPad, downloaded the app and had a play.

Jerry Roberts has died

One of the last surviving Bletchley Park codebreakers, Jerry Roberts, has died aged 93. He was one of a small group of codebreakers who decrypted messages from the German High Command, including the German plans for the battle of Kursk. He initially worked on the Double Playfair hand cipher used by the German police, and later was part of the team working on the (more difficult than the well-known Enigma) Lorenz cipher, which used two sets of five cipher wheels.

Roberts had a successful career after the war in market research, and was a campaigner in later years for greater recognition for his fellow codebreakers – including William Tutte and Tommy Flowers, who had built the Colossus computer which cracked the codes, and Alan Turing, who also apparently did something.

Jerry Roberts obituary – The Guardian

Bletchley Park codebreaker Jerry Roberts dies, aged 93 - BBC News website

Jerry Roberts – Obituary – The Telegraph

Follow Friday, 21/03/14

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, but here’s a selection of Twitter accounts you may wish to follow. This week, the theme is numbers!

1. Prime Numbers

While I usually try to pull out an interesting tweet to showcase the brilliance of the accounts I recommend, in this case the account is tweeting every prime number. It’s run by an automated script, which you can see the code for, and according to its bio, aims to tweet “Every prime number, eventually”. Ambitious.

3.142: a π round-up

Pi pie by Robert Couse-Baker. Photo used under the CC-BY 2.0 license.

π pie by Robert Couse-Baker. Photo used under the CC-BY 2.0 licence.

‘Tis the season to celebrate the circle constant!1 Yes, that’s right: in some calendar systems using some date notation, the day and month coincide with the first three digits of π, and mathematicians all over the world are celebrating with thematic baked goods and the wearing of irrational t-shirts.

And the internet’s maths cohort isn’t far behind. Here’s a round-up (geddit – round?!) of some of our favourites. In case you were wondering, we at The Aperiodical hadn’t forgotten about π day – we’re just saving ourselves for next year, when we’ll celebrate the magnificent “3.14.15”, which will for once be more accurate to the value of π than π approximation day on 22/7. (Admittedly, for the last few years, 3.14.14 and so on have strictly been closer to π than 22/7. But this will be the first time you can include the year and feel like you’re doing it right.)

  1. Pedants would have me revise that to “circle constant”. []



Since we’re the leading authority on Alan Turing news stories, and since it’s clear that anything is improved by the addition of LASERS, we’re proud to report that the Manchester Histories Festival, taking place across Manchester on March 21-28, will include LASER ALAN TURING.

The centrepiece of the festival will be a laser light show at MediaCity in Salford, playing throughout the festival; it will include a ‘thank you’ message to Alan Turing, in morse code, by artist Craig Morrison, and involves two mile laser beams. The Histories Festival says:

The art is a tribute to the impact he continues to have on how we live today in a digitally connected world.

More information

Laser light spectacular to pay tribute to Alan Turing at festival at the Manchester Evening News

Thank you event page

Manchester Histories Festival