You're reading: News

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)

Principia Reissue Kickstarter

Spanish independent publisher Kronecker Wallis is making a new edition of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematicia, using a Kickstarter campaign to fund the initial print run. Here’s their video:

It looks like it’ll be a fairly pretty object, and they’ve put a lot of time and thought into choosing the paper, fonts and layout. Their Kickstarter runs for around another 24 hours, and a pledge of €45 or more will secure you a copy of the finished article.

More information

Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica Reissue, on Kickstarter

Best way to explain topology: now officially ‘using baked goods’

Nobel Prize news!

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to a trio of physicists: Michael Kosterlitz, Duncan Haldane and David Thouless“for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”.

And here’s the maths angle – their work is in the field of topological physics, which relates strange matter (superconductors, superfluids and the like) to topology, via the interesting way the properties of the materials change in phases, like the different fundamental shapes of objects in topology. None of the material we’ve taken a cursory glance at so far yields a simple explanation of how these two things are linked, but they have explanatory PDFs on the Nobel website if you’d like a dig around: Popular (PDF) and Advanced (PDF).

Also, impressively many newspaper headlines seem to have failed to notice that ‘strange matter’ is actually a thing in physics, and consequently mangled it in their explanations.

Cue of course an amazing press conference in which Nobel Committee for Physics member Thors Hans Hansson holds up a bun, a bagel and a pretzel to explain the difference. Classic topology.

More information

Official Nobel press release

British scientists win Nobel prize in physics for work so baffling it had to be described using bagels, at The Telegraph (bonus points for ‘Noble prize’ typo, if it’s not been corrected yet)

Physics prize explanations on the Nobel website: Popular (PDF) and Advanced (PDF)