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Association for Women in Maths essay contest

The Association for Women in Mathematics in the USA is running its annual essay contest again, open to students in three age categories from Grade 6 to undergraduate.

Here’s the blurb:

To increase awareness of women’s ongoing contributions to the mathematical sciences, the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and Math for America are co-sponsoring an essay contest for biographies of contemporary women mathematicians and statisticians in academic, industrial, and government careers.

The essays will be based primarily on an interview with a woman currently working in a mathematical sciences career. This contest is open to students in the following categories: Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, and College Undergraduate. At least one winning submission will be chosen from each category. Winners will receive a prize, and their essays will be published online at the AWM web site. Additionally, a grand prize winner will have his or her submission published in the AWM Newsletter.

The deadline for entries is January the 31st 2017, and if you want the AWM to pair you up with an interviewee, you need to get a request in by January 10th.

All the prize-winning essays from previous years are online, including this nice one about Tanya Khovanova by high school student Emily Jia.

More information

AWM essay contest

Contest rules

Past winners

CP’s solid used as the basis of a puzzle

Back in 2013, our own Christian Lawson-Perfect came up with a way of making a solid from the smallest non-Hamiltonian graph, the Herschel Graph. Called the Herschel Enneahedron, it’s got nine faces (three squares and six kites) and the same symmetries as the graph itself.

The most recent news is that Spektrum magazine – sort of a German version of New Scientist – has included in its regular puzzle column a Herschel Enneahedron-related challenge. Here’s Google’s best effort at translating it:

Please make a polyhedron of 3 squares and 6 cover-like kite rectangles with suitable dimensions (in your thoughts, drawings or with carton). What symmetry properties does it have, how many corners and edges? Is it possible to make a (Hamilton-) circular path on its edges, which takes each corner exactly once and does not use an edge more than once?

Before you get out your cartons and start working on this, given that we started from a graph which isn’t Hamiltonian, you may have a slight spoiler on the answer here… but the solution given includes some nice videos and explanation as to how the solid is formed.

Treitz Puzzles 313, at

“Mathematics: The Winton Gallery” opens at Science Museum

Image by Jody Kingzett

The Science Museum in London has for a long time had a maths gallery; if you didn’t already know that, it’s probably because it was old, stuffy, full of random maths objects (so, very cool if you’re me), and not very easy to find. They’ve updated the gallery, working with the architect Dame Zaha Hadid, to produce a new space which hopefully brings the gallery up to date.

After a preview opening event, reports seem to be largely positive – the gallery has taken the approach of focusing on the way mathematics impacts the real world, rather than the actual maths itself. It contains lots of interesting artefacts and stories about the history of the way people have interacted with mathematics, although according to observers, no equations (boo!).

It’s been written up by a few design-focused websites, but the best articles to get a sense of it are Alex Bellos’ write-up in the Guardian, and a piece by BBC arts editor Will Gompertz (although one wonders if the BBC couldn’t have sent their science, or in a magical fairyland, maths correspondent to cover this).

The gallery is open at the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, starting 8th December, daily from 10am-6pm, and is free to visit.

More information

Mathematics: The Winton Gallery on the Science Museum website

Rubik’s cube manufacturer loses trademark battle

After all the excitement of the UK Rubik’s cube championships last weekend, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that after 10-year legal battle, the trademark on the shape of the Rubik’s cube is not valid.

The trademark was registered in 1999, but since the original design of the cube was never patented, it’s long been on shaky ground. The court has ruled that the shape of the cube alone is not enough to protect it from copying, and that a patent would be needed to do so. The implications are that licensed manufacturers of the game could now face more competition from cheaper overseas sellers.

More information

Rubik’s Cube puzzled after losing EU trademark battle, at The Guardian
Rubik’s Cube shape not a trademark, rules top EU court, at BBC News

Not Mentioned on the Aperiodical, 10th November 2016

Here’s a round-up of some of the news from this month.

Never-ending Turing centenary, part XLVI

The Alan Turing centenary shows no signs of abating.

First of all, there’s a marvellous new art installation under Paddington Bridge in London, in memory of Turing. There’s also a theatre piece called Breaking the Code, showing at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre until 19th November.

Secondly, work continues to introduce legislation in the UK pardoning all gay men who were convicted of crimes related to homosexuality, in the same way Alan was a few years ago. Ministers said they were ‘committed’ to getting the law passed, but in an emotional session the bill was “talked out” by minister Sam Gyimah, meaning it wasn’t voted on.

LMS wins the first Royal Society Athena prize

The London Mathematical Society (LMS) has been honoured this autumn by receiving the first Royal Society Athena Prize to recognise its advancement of diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) within the mathematical community. The prize was awarded in a ceremony at the Royal Society’s annual diversity conference on 31 October.

Royal Society press release

Fourth Christopher Zeeman medal goes to Rob Eastaway

Mathematician, author and friend of the site Rob Eastaway has received the 2016 Christopher Zeeman medal, awarded to recognise and acknowledge the contributions of mathematicians involved in promoting mathematics to the public and engaging with the public in mathematics in the UK.

There will be an award lecture taking place on 22 March 2017, and details will be announced in Mathematics Today and the LMS Newsletter.

IMA website article on the award
Rob Eastaway’s citation (PDF)