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Aperiodcast – 11/02/2013

Two days late, because that is the way we rotate here, it’s another episode of our sporadic navel-gazing podcast.

In this episode we talked about:


Collaborative Mathematics: kids (and non-kids) work together on problems over YouTube

Jason Ermer’s Collaborative Mathematics project has launched its first video challenge. The project aims to allow mathematics to happen collaboratively via the medium of online videos, and video responses. The idea is that having watched the challenge video, you work with a group of friends (collaboratively) and post a response video, and then watch others’ response videos, and hopefully somewhere along the line mathematics will happen.

‘Of little practical value’?

Some mathematics, pictured here being hard to illustrate in news coverage

Some mathematics, pictured here being hard to illustrate in news coverage

As the heady excitement of the dawn of a forty-eight-Mersenne-prime world dims to a subdued, albeit slightly less factorable, normality, I have taken the opportunity to see what we can learn about the British press’s attitude and ability when it comes to the reporting of big numbers ending in a 1.

Overseas readers may not be aware that the UK’s public service broadcaster, the BBC, is funded by a mandatory annual £145.50 tax on all television-owning households. Therefore, it would be disappointing if some of these funds were not channeled into reporting the discovery in at least five or six separately-produced broadcasts across the organisation’s various radio and television outlets.

Carnival of Mathematics 95

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of November, is now online at Maths Fact. The post is in Spanish, but can be translated into English using Google Translate.

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.

Rock Paper Squiggles

We’ve seen non-transitive dice, and we’ve had cellular automata coming out of our ears (and proceeding deterministically). Now, this:

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A post by the CA’s creator describes in more detail what’s going on, although essentially the idea is that red, green and blue are able to destroy each other in a similar way to rock-paper-scissors, and the result of letting them play for a while is quite interesting. My favourite YouTube comment here has got to be the amazing and prescient “I’m high and what is this?”

BSA STEM Poster Competition – Mission to Mars

Following on from the Maths Careers website’s ‘Mathematics of Planet Earth’ poster competition, I’m going on the assumptions that 1. everyone loves poster competitions, and 2. if they’re related somehow to a particular planet, that’s even better.

The Manchester branch of the British Science Association is running a competition to design a poster around a theoretical upcoming manned mission to Mars, describing some science that solves a problem the Mars lander might face. I think we should encourage people to enter mathematics-based posters (firmly wedging the M in STEM).

How much equipment would they need to carry, and how much would it weigh, and how much fuel would they therefore need? How does the addition of human cargo affect the landing trajectory? And what can the crew possibly use to keep themselves occupied on the long journey except some maths puzzles you’ve invented?

The competition is aimed at school years 7-9 (ages 11-14), and while it’s being run by the Manchester branch, nothing on the website says you have to be based in Manchester to enter.

More information

Competition details

The Greater Manchester STEM Centre

CREST Awards