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My Favorite Theorem podcast launched

My Favorite Theorem logo

As of this month, maths person Evelyn Lamb and colleague Kevin Knudson are producing a regular weekly maths podcast called ’My Favorite Theorem’.

They plan to spend each episode talking with a mathematical professional about their favourite result in mathematics, as well as something which goes with it, such as a foodstuff or real-world object which analogises well (like choosing a wine paired with a meal). The episodes are fairly short – both released so far are under 25 minutes – and the first one focuses on the hosts’ own favourite theorems. If you can get past the US spelling of favourite, it’s an enjoyable listen and covers some cool topics.

More Information

My Favorite Theorem on iTunes
My Favorite Theorem on Twitter

Subscript: We’re trying out a new shorter post format

We don’t have lots of time to write in-depth posts about maths news any more, what with having jobs and families to attend to, so we’ve set up this new Subscripts format for when we’ve seen a thing and want to share it but don’t have time to do any more than that.

That’s all!

Algebraic Combinatorics ditches Springer

The editorial board of the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics have announced they’re leaving Springer and setting up a new journal called Algebraic Combinatorics. The new journal will follow the principles of Fair OA – the key points are that the journal will be free to read, fees will be low, and acceptance won’t depend on ability to pay.

Hugh Thomas, one of the editors of Algebraic Combinatorics, said of the move,

“There wasn’t a particular crisis. It has been becoming more and more clear that commercial journal publishers are charging high subscription fees and high Article Processing Charges (APCs), profiting from the volunteer labour of the academic community, and adding little value. It is getting easier and easier to automate the things that they once took care of. The actual printing and distribution of paper copies is also much less important than it has been in the past; this is something which we have decided we can do without.”

Another victory for fair and sensible maths publishing, brought about by a small group of OA advocates set up by Mark Wilson and including Timothy Gowers. There’s much more about what’s happened and why you should support the new journal on Gowers’s weblog.

Algebraic Combinatorics lives at (can you believe that was available?!)

Fun with microbiology: Virus, the Beauty of the Beast

Hamish Todd offers Virus, the Beauty of the Beast, an interactive documentary about viruses. Viruses have protein shells made of patterns which can be explored mathematically, and this link to tiling theory and geometric shapes provides a mathematical interest for the piece.

Hamish is a former game designer, former teacher turned PhD student in computational biology. He says:

While studying maths I had learned about viruses, and about their connection to Islamic art, which amazed me. I found it staggering that such beautiful things could surround us without most people being aware of it. I wanted to let people see it, and I knew that my game design skills could help me do that.

Apparently many viruses are arranged on what Hamish calls a ‘hexagons and pentagons’ structure (Caspar-Klug theory), and others have more exotic structures. Wikipedia says “most animal viruses are icosahedral or near-spherical with chiral icosahedral symmetry”, with other more complicated shapes also found.

As well as “interactive documentary”, Hamish calls the website an ‘explorable explanation’, which aims “to let laypeople play with the beautiful things that mathematicians and scientists spend their time with”. Overall, it seems like a nicely-produced series of interactive videos exploring an interesting topic. Give it a go!

More information

Virus, the Beauty of the Beast, the interactive documentary.

Virus, the Beauty of the Beast press pack.

A symmetry approach to viruses, an article at Plus.

2017 LMS prize winners announced

The London Mathematical Society has announced the winners of its various prizes and medals for this year.

Here’s a summary of the more senior prizes:

  • Alex Wilkie gets the Pólya prize for “his profound contributions to model theory and to its connections with real analytic geometry.”
  • Peter Cameron gets a Senior Whitehead prize for “his exceptional research contributions across combinatorics and group theory.” Peter has written a rare horn-tooting post on his excellent blog about winning the prize.
  • Alison Etheridge gets a Senior Anne Bennett prize “in recognition of her outstanding research on measure-valued stochastic processes and applications to population biology; and for her impressive leadership and service to the profession.”
  • John King gets a Naylor prize for “his profound contributions to the theory of nonlinear PDEs and applied mathematical modelling.”

The Berwick prize goes to Kevin Costello, and Whitehead prizes go to  Julia Gog, András Máthé, Ashley Montanaro, Oscar Randal-Williams, Jack Thorne, and Michael Wemyss.

Read the full announcement at the LMS website.

Laws of mathematics not as immutable as we thought, in Australia

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull said, as part of a speech proposing a law to force tech companies to give the government access to encrypted messages,

“The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”

The problem is that the end-to-end encryption schemes used by messaging apps make it practically impossible for the makers of the app to read messages, even if they really want to.

New Scientist writer Jacob Aron has seen the positive side of Turnbull’s comments:

Patterns and code to make your own cellular automaton scarves now online

If you remember our post about Fabienne Serrière’s amazing Cellular Automaton Scarves Kickstarter back in 2015, you’ll be pleased to hear Fabienne has now put the patterns, and all the code you need to make your own scarves, online on her Ravelry page.

If you have a knitting machine and are prepared to hack it to take code input (you can read Fabienne’s blog to find out how she’s done that), you can use JPG files to generate knitting patterns of your own, or use Fabienne’s code to create cellular automata from a seed row of pixels of your choice. She’s included the code for Rule 110, but I’m sure you could work out your own automata and knit those too. The patterns can also be knitted by hand, if you’re incredibly patient.

via KnitYak on Twitter.