### Prime number puzzles from Matt Parker

As part of the Telegraph numeracy campaign “Making Britain Count”, Matt Parker’s second set of puzzles are online. This time they are themed around prime numbers.

### Math/Maths 86: Complex Pony Tails

A new episode of the Math/Maths Podcast has been released.

A conversation about mathematics between the UK and USA from Pulse-Project.org. This week Samuel and Peter spoke about: The Recent Difficulties with RSA; Do we need a maths museum?; Brian Schmidt’s Mathematical Arguement; IBM claims most PhD mathematicians in its employ; Maths grads teaching alert; John Nash’s Letters to the NSA; The mathematical equation that caused the banks to crash; Rapunzel’s Number: Science behind ponytail revealed; EPSRC Shaping Capabilities; Maths Jam; & more.

Get this episode: “Math/Maths 86: Complex Pony Tails

### The True Importance of Friends

A new post is available over at Second-Rate Minds by Samuel Hansen.

Why your friends have more friends than you do. That is the rather provocative title of a 1991 paper by Purdue University sociologist Scott Feld. While the title is rather provocative, thankfully it turns out that the statement is built on a solid foundation. It turns out that your friends having …

Read the full post: “The True Importance of Friends

### Ian Stewart on Black-Scholes

Ian Stewart gives us a taste of his new book Seventeen Equations That Changed the World in a Guardian article about the Black-Scholes equation. This, he says:

provided a rational way to price a financial contract when it still had time to run… It opened up a new world of ever more complex investments, blossoming into a gigantic global industry. But when the sub-prime mortgage market turned sour, the darling of the financial markets became the Black Hole equation, sucking money out of the universe in an unending stream.

So what went wrong? Stewart explains that “the equation itself wasn’t the real problem”, going into some detail about how the equation was derived, how it works and what assumptions are included. He concludes:

Was an equation to blame for the financial crash, then? Yes and no. Black-Scholes may have contributed to the crash, but only because it was abused. In any case, the equation was just one ingredient in a rich stew of financial irresponsibility, political ineptitude, perverse incentives and lax regulation.

Ultimately, Stewart argues, “the financial sector performs no better than random guesswork”, with the system “too complex to be run on error-strewn hunches and gut feelings, but current mathematical models don’t represent reality adequately”, a situation that requires “requires more mathematics, not less”.

### Math/Maths 85: Scientists vs. Investment Bankers

A conversation about mathematics between the UK and USA from Pulse-Project.org. This week Samuel and Peter spoke about: Every odd integer larger than 1 is the sum of at most five primes; No pardon for Alan Turing; more super bowl math; Early results from the Met Office weather game; Trends in Race/Ethnicity and Gender Representation in the Mathematical Sciences; Wolfram|Alpha Pro; more on Elsevier boycott; & more.

### Wolfram|Alpha Pro

Stephen Wolfram writes what Wolfram|Alpha Pro does and what it will cost you. He says:

Over the two and a half years since we first launched, Wolfram|Alpha has been growing rapidly in content and capabilities. But today’s introduction of Wolfram|Alpha Pro in effect adds a whole new model for interacting with Wolfram|Alpha—and brings all sorts of fundamentally new and remarkable capabilities.