You're reading: Posts By Katie Steckles

Matt Parker’s Fractal Christmas Tree

Stand-up Mathematician and all-round maths lover Matt Parker has been busy again, and he’s made a set of free worksheets for teachers (and, of course, interested non-teachers) to assemble paper nets of 3D fractals, including a Menger sponge and Sierpinski tetrahedron (which I’ve just learned is also called a tetrix).

There’s also a sheet for making a delightfully festive/mathematical fractal Christmas tree, with a Menger sponge base, Sierpinski branches and a Koch Snowflake star on top. Presumably those interested can make Mandelbulb ornaments and Cantor Set tinsel to hang on it. Don’t ask me how that would work.

The worksheets can be downloaded from Matt’s Think Maths website.

Anyone who successfully builds the whole thing: send us a photo and we’ll post it here. Jokes about fractals taking a while to cut out/paint in the comments.

Registration for the Alan Turing Cryptography Competition 2013 is open

Following on from the huge success that was their inaugural competition earlier this year, mathematicians from the University of Manchester have put together another Cryptography Competition in honour of father of modern everything, Alan Turing.

This time, the competition is open to teams of school children from all over the UK, and comprises a six-chapter story featuring Alice and Bob Mike and Ellie, who get “caught up in a cryptographic adventure”. Solving all the puzzles and cracking the codes faster than other people gets you on the leader board, and there are prizes for being near the top as well as extra prizes for randomly-selected teams who’ve solved everything. (You know that since it’s a maths department, their randomisation algorithms will be top-notch). It’s also possible to enter as a non-schoolchild, and check your answers on the site, although you won’t be eligible for prizes. The competition is aimed at UK school years 7-11 (age 11-16), although I can confirm it’s dead good fun for anyone interested in cryptography puzzles themed around exciting storylines.

More information

Alan Turing Cryptography Competition 2013

Manchester University press release

Via Nick Higham on Twitter.

A mathematical monologue

The Mathematics of ChangeThe Mathematics of Change is a comic monologue about a Princeton freshman studying mathematics, performed by ‘acclaimed comic monologuist Josh Kornbluth‘. According to Wikipedia, the monologue ‘describes how despite a love for mathematics he “hit the wall” in his freshman classes at Princeton’ and ‘draws parallels between calculus and life’. Ha – parallels. Good one. From the trailer, it looks like the entire performance takes place in front of an increasingly-covered-in-maths lecture theatre blackboard.

Described as an ‘off-Broadway hit’, the show has toured the US playing in universities and theatres, and is set in the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at Berkeley. The show’s site features a trailer as well as a link to buy the DVD.

Peter Rowlett interviewed on

Having featured interviews with two of our three editors in the past (see: Christian P here and Katie here), the lovely people at have now completed the set and this week feature an interview with “the Bill Bryson of mathematics” (source: overheard at the Maths Jam conference), our own Peter Rowlett.

Why and when did Peter start blogging? Does anything still exist in maths he hasn’t yet blogged about? Find out in ‘Mathematical Instruments: Travels in a Mathematical World‘.

Carnival of Mathematics 93

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of November, is now online at X in Vogue.

The Carnival rounds up maths blog posts from all over the internet, including some from our own Aperiodical. For more information about the Carnival of Mathematics, click here.

New York Museum of Mathematics opening weekend tickets now on sale

UK-based fans of the proposed UK Maths Museum will be exceedingly jealous to hear that New York’s mathematical visitor attraction, MoMath (the National Museum of Mathematics), is opening this month. Their opening weekend is 15th-16th December, and tickets are now on sale if you want to attend either day to take in their exhibits and activities.

For a taster of what the museum will be like, Time Out has a slide show of exciting pictures alongside a review.

For more information about the museum, visit their website at, or follow them on Twitter @MoMath1.