(For once I can use an exclamation mark next to a number without wise alecks making the canonical joke)
Maths and stats! On BBC Radio 1! Who’d’ve though it!
DJ Clara Amfo and the ubiquitous Hannah Fry have got a new series on the UK’s top pop station, looking at music from a mathematical perspective.
Music by Numbers (excuse me, Music by Num83r5), is currently being broadcast at 9pm each Tuesday, and there are a couple of episodes already on iPlayer Radio to catch up on. The first is about Coldplay (records sold: millions; distinct tunes composed: 1) and the second looks at a few numbers to do with Iggy Azalea’s career.
It’s mostly a very easy listen, more a biography hung off a list of numbers than any real maths, but that might be your cup of tea. And Dr Fry’s segments do go into a little bit of depth about subjects like how the top 40 chart is calculated.
I’ll warn you now that each episode is an hour long, with a lot of music breaks. If you’re like me, your tolerance for some of the featured artists might not be sufficient to get through a whole episode in one go.
Listen: Music by Numbers on BBC Radio 1.
Here are a few of the stories that we didn’t get round to covering in depth this month.
Turing’s Sunflowers Project – results
Manchester Science Festival’s mass-participation maths/gardening project, Turing’s Sunflowers, ran in 2012 and invited members of the public to grow their own sunflowers, and then photograph or bring in the seed heads so a group of mathematicians could study them. The aim was to determine whether Fibonacci numbers occur in the seed spirals – this has previously been observed, but no large-scale study like this has ever been undertaken. This carries on the work Alan Turing did before he died.
The results of the research are now published – a paper has been published in the Royal Society’s Open Science journal, and the findings indicate that while Fibonacci numbers do often occur, other types of numbers also crop up, including Lucas numbers and other similarly defined number sequences.
“I’m proud that I’ve lived to see… so many of the things that I’ve worked on being so widely adopted that no one even thinks about where they came from.” Solomon Golomb (1932-2016)
Solomon Golomb, who died on Sunday May 1st, was a man who revelled in the key objects in a recreational mathematician’s toolbox: number sequences, shapes and words (in many languages). He also carved out a distinguished career by, broadly speaking, transferring his detailed knowledge of the mathematics behind integer sequences to engineering problems in the nascent field of digital communications, and his discoveries are very much still in use today.
From Mark C. Wilson of the University of Auckland, a little public service announcement for anyone who’s ever been involved with a mathematical journal.
There is much dissatisfaction with the current state of research
publication, but little information on community attitudes and priorities.
I have started a survey which I hope you will fill in (I estimate 10-15
minutes, and it is completely anonymous). The results will be made publicly
available later this year. I hope that it will help to focus our efforts as
a community by allowing us to work toward broadly agreed goals. I want to
get as representative and as large a sample of the world mathematical
community as possible. Please forward to your local colleagues.
Please answer this survey if and only if you have been involved with a
mathematical journal as editor, reviewer/referee, author or reader in the
last 3 years. By “mathematical” we also mean to include theoretical
computer science and mathematical statistics journals, and disciplinary
journals used by applied mathematicians. Essentially, any journal covered
by Mathematical Reviews qualifies.
Answer the survey
Here’s something fun you might want to spend some money on: a poster of the Mandelbrot set, in the style of an old-fashioned navigation chart.
The Kickstarter has already racked up many multiples of the original funding goal with three weeks still to go, so it’s at the “effectively a pre-order” stage. The posters start at \$26.
Kickstarter: Mandelmap poster by Bill Tavis.
Conjecture Every planar graph without 4-cycles and 5-cycles is 3-colourable.
In a paper just uploaded to the arXiv, Vincent Cohen-Addad, Michael Hebdige, Daniel Kral, Zhentao Li and Esteban Salgado show the construction of a graph with no cycles of length 4 or 5 which isn’t 3-colourable: it isn’t possible to assign colours to its vertices so that no pair of adjacent vertices have the same colour, using only three different colours. This is a counterexample to a conjecture of Richard Steinberg from 1976.
The problem was listed in the Open Problem Garden as of “outstanding” importance.
Read the paper: Steinberg’s conjecture is false
via Parcly Taxel on Twitter
Previously unseen footage has been unearthed by The Aperiodical’s crack team of investigative journalists of Kevin Bacon and Paul Erdős writing a paper together, and a still from this is shown above. This has massive consequences for the important topics of Erdős numbers, Bacon numbers and Erdős-Bacon numbers.