The day after last week’s budget, I logged onto the BBC News website and clicked on their budget calculator to find out if I was a winner or a loser. The questions are pretty simple: first off, it asks how much you drink, smoke and drive, and then it asks how much you earn, plus a few bits and bobs to cover technicalities. Then, it spits out an answer: did Phil leave you feeling flush, was it more of a hammering at the hands of Hammond? I came away £8 a month better off…and significantly angrier than I expected.

# You're reading: Columns

### Festival of the Spoken Nerd: Just for Graphs DVD

*The new live DVD from science comedy trio Festival of the Spoken Nerd, Just for Graphs, is out now, and we’ve been sent a copy to review. We got together a pile of appropriately nerdy science fans to watch (left), and here’s what we thought.*

### “Pariah Moonshine” Part II: For Whom the Moon Shines

*This post is part of a series of posts by guest author Joshua Holden.*

I ended Part I with the observation that the Monster group was connected with the symmetries of a group sitting in 196883-dimensional space, whereas the number 196884 appeared as part of a function used in number theory, the study of the properties of whole numbers. In particular, a mathematician named John McKay noticed the number as one of the coefficients of a modular form.

### The competition I entered into the first MathsJam Competition Competition

A couple of weekends ago was the big MathsJam gathering (I might call it a recreational maths conference, but this is discouraged). Two of the delightful sideshows, alongside an excellent series of talks, were the competitions. The Baking Competition is fairly straightforward, with prizes for “best flavour, best presentation, and best maths”:

The first will reward a well-made, delicious item; the second will reward the item which has been decorated the most beautifully and looks most like what it’s supposed to be; and the third will reward the most ingenious mathematical theming.

You can view the entries from this year on the MathsJam website.

### Carnival of Mathematics 151

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of October, and compiled by Frederick, is now online at White Group Mathematics.

The Carnival rounds up maths blog posts from all over the internet, including some from our own Aperiodical. See our Carnival of Mathematics page for more information.

### HLF Blogs: Is mathematics idealistic or realistic?

*In September, Katie and Paul spent a week blogging from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a week-long maths conference where current young researchers in maths and computer science can meet and hear talks by top-level prize-winning researchers. For more information about the HLF, visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.*

The closing talk of the HLF’s main lecture programme (before the young researchers and laureates head off to participate in scientific interaction with SAP representatives to discuss maths and computer science in industry) was given by Fields Medalist **Steve Smale**.

### “Pariah Moonshine” Part I: The Happy Family and the Pariah Groups

Being a mathematician, I often get asked if I’m good at calculating tips. I’m not. In fact, mathematicians study lots of other things besides numbers. As most people know, if they stop to think about it, one of the other things mathematicians study is shapes. Some of us are especially interested in the symmetries of those shapes, and a few of us are interested in both numbers and symmetries.