If you pay attention to United States politics you have probably noticed that mathematics is currently enjoying a rare moment of relevance. You probably also know this is not happening because all of a sudden politicians have decided that mathematics is clearly the coolest thing in the world, even though it clearly is, but instead because *gerrymandering* has become one of the major issues du jour.

# You're reading: Columns

### Are you more likely to be killed by a meteor or to win the lottery?

This tweet from the QI Elves popped up on my Twitter timeline:

The odds of being crushed by a meteor are considerably lower (i.e. more likely) than those of winning the jackpot on the National Lottery.

— Quite Interesting (@qikipedia) January 11, 2018

In the account’s usual citationless factoid style, the Elves state that you’re more likely to be crushed by a meteor than to win the jackpot on the lottery.

The replies to this tweet were mainly along the lines of this one from my internet acquaintance Chris Mingay:

Should we not be getting almost weekly stories of people being crushed by a meteor then ?

— Chris Mingay (@GhostMutt) January 11, 2018

Yeah, why don’t we hear about people being squished by interplanetary rocks all the time? I’d tune in to that!

### Carnival of Mathematics 153

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of December, and compiled by the team, is now online at Ganit Charcha.

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.

### I’ve re-recorded Alan Turing’s “Can Computers Think?” radio broadcasts

On the 15th of May 1951 the BBC broadcast a short lecture by the mathematician Alan Turing under the title *Can Computers Think?* This was a part of a series of lectures on the emerging science of computing which featured other pioneers of the time, including Douglas Hartree, Max Newman, Freddie Williams and Maurice Wilkes. Together they represented major new projects in computing at the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester. Unfortunately these recordings no longer exist, along with all other recordings of Alan Turing. So I decided to rerecord Turing’s lecture from his original script.

### Review: Geometry Snacks, by Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni

Exams have a nasty habit of sucking the joy out of a subject. My interest in proper literature was dulled by A-Level English, and I celebrated my way out of several GCSE papers – in subjects I’d picked because I enjoyed them – saying “I’ll never have to do that again.”

Geometry is a topic that generally suffers badly from this – but fortunately, Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni’s *Geometry Snacks* is here to set that right.

### Donald Knuth’s 2017 Christmas lecture: “A Conjecture That Had To Be True”

Every year, Donald Knuth gives a Christmas lecture at Stanford.

This year, he wanted to talk about a conjecture he’s recently investigated.

It’s just over an hour long. Sit down with a warm drink and enjoy some interesting recreational maths from the master.

### A winning competition

As part of this year’s MathsJam gathering, as for the last few years, we held a competition competition (you may have seen Peter’s recent post about his entry to the same event in 2014). My competition was the winner, and I thought I’d share with you some of the entries, as I very much enjoyed reading them all.