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Save the Ri

It’s been in the news this week that the Royal Institution is having financial trouble, and is considering selling its London headquarters at Albemarle Street. The organisation has done a great deal for the popularisation of mathematics over the years, from including mathematics in its series of annual Christmas Lectures (delivered by Christopher Zeeman in 1978, by Ian Stewart in 1997 and Marcus Du Sautoy in 2006) as well as running an excellent series of mathematics and engineering masterclasses for primary and secondary schools, since 1981. They also have a dedicated maths team, who post maths resources on the Ri website.

Professor Sir Harry Kroto, a Nobel laureate in chemistry, has started a blog called “Save the Ri” and posted a highly outraged open letter calling on interested parties to “make it clear to the Government and others in positions of responsibility that we are outraged by the decision to put the premises up for sale”. He’s also posted a statement outlining the situation, and indicating his support of the ‘Save 21 Albemarle Street’ campaign, on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE: MP Valerie Vaz has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament about this, although it currently only has 9 signatures. There’s also an e-petition, calling for the government to purchase the building and let the Ri stay there permanently.

Aperiodcast – Christiansmas Eve 2013

After two months we’ve finally done another podcast! We completely forgot even the most rudimentary things about how to do a podcast. Sorry.

In this episode, we talked about:

As always, we’re keen to hear about your mathematical exploits either by email to or through our new, streamlined sending-something-in form.

If you’ve got some ideas for how we can do a better podcast, we’d be particularly keen to hear from you.


The nonsense math effect

This week, the Freakonomics blog covered research by Stockholm University’s Kimmo Eriksson, which found that including a mathematical equation in the abstract of a research paper made scholars from different fields judge the research to be ‘of higher quality’, even though the equation is unrelated to the work and also complete nonsense. The study included 200 participants, although the amount by which the equation increased the perceived ‘quality’ of research varied between disciplines, and in fact caused a slight decrease for people working in mathematics or science subjects.

Via Tim Harford on Twitter.

The Aperiodical’s Possibly Annual Awards for Mathematical Achievement

Christian Perfect: 2012 was an alright year. At the very least, all of it happened, which is better than some had predicted. And since 2012 did happen, we are obliged by the Laws of Something to give out some awards.

Katie Steckles: Of course, the most noteworthy thing which happened in 2012 was the creation of an amazing mathematical blogging website, but I don’t mean to go on too much about that. Anyway, we’ve gathered together some candidates for some categories we made up, and will decide on our favourites via the process of arguing.

CP: Allons-y!

2013: I can be the year of stuff too!

In case you were bored of hearing that amazing ‘mathematical’ fact number coincidence, don’t worry – 2013 is mathematical for other reasons. Even though we’ve run out of Alan Turing Centenary year, and the slightly-under-mentioned Poincaré Centenary year, apparently 2013 is both The International Year of Statistics (Statistics2013) and the year of scientific collaboration project Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013. Watch out for upcoming events related to both!

Möbius house

Mobius HouseSince the Möbius band is such a cool object, it follows that anything made from a Möbius band or in the shape of a Möbius band is therefore also supercool. Also: the bigger, the better. So how about a Möbius house?

Korean architects Planning Korea have come up with a scale model and computer generated images of an amazing house based on the one-sided wonder, which uses the face of the Möbius strip as the roof and walls, with the front and back of the house covered in glass windows. It would take twice as long to paint the outside of your house (it’s also the inside), but otherwise you’d be sitting pretty. I do hope that’s a Möbius shed visible in the background, and a probability tree in the garden.

If you’re looking for something to sit on in your non-orientable domicile – presumably, while wearing your Conjoined Möbius Hat – there’s always this chair, which was incorrectly identified as being a Möbius strip by NotCot, and features a distinctly Möbiusy-looking wooden frame with coloured hanging net, to throw yourself into at the end of a long day of one-sided arguments and twisted stripping (don’t ask).

Via Alex Bellos on Twitter.