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The Aperiodical’s Actual Snowflake Competition – Results

Before Christmas, we launched a winter-themed maths competition – to design a sensible hexagonal snowflake, using a square grid, which could be used to knit a wintery jumper and not a) look terrible or b) have non-hexagonal symmetry. We had a deluge of entries, some valid and others less so – in fact, we may have had at least one entry break each of the rules we set. Below is a round-up of all the entries we received.

New Mersenne prime discovered, and promptly printed out

Breaking news! On 19th January 2016, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search discovered a new largest prime number – we know 49 Mersenne primes, the largest of which is now $2^{74207281}-1$, a number containing over 22 million digits and full of primey goodness.

Internet Maths Person Matt Parker has responded to the news in spectacular style, by issuing a 14-minute long video explaining the discovery and its implications, as well as somehow scoring an interview with the actual discoverer of the new prime, Curtis Cooper.

Particularly mathematical New Years Honours 2016

Once again, it’s time for our traditional trawl through the New Years Honours list for mentions of “mathematics”, hoping that better-informed readers will fill in the people this crude method has missed. I’ve found the following names:

  • Steve Humble (Dr Maths) awarded MBE for services to Education (via Garrod Musto on Twitter);
  • Lynn Churchman of National Numeracy awarded OBE for services to Maths and Numeracy education (via Rob Eastaway on Twitter);
  • Sue Black (Bletchley Park campaigner, among much else) awarded OBE for services to technology (via Colin Wright on Twitter);
  • Margherita Biller (Head of Mathematics, York College), awarded MBE for services to Mathematics in Further Education;
  • Emily Shuckburgh, mathematician and climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey, awarded OBE for services to Science and Public Communication of Science (added in an update 01/01/16, thanks to Colin Cotter on Twitter);
  • Ruth Kaufman, president of the Operational Research Society, awarded OBE for services to Operational Research (added in an update 01/01/16, thanks to Catherine Hobbs in the comments);
  • Clare Sutcliffe, founder of Code Club, awarded MBE for services to technology education (added in an update 01/01/16, thanks to John Read in the comments);
  • Alison Allden, formerly chief executive, Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited, awarded OBE for services to higher education (added in an update 05/01/16, thanks to Susan Oakes in the comments);
  • Professor Dame Ann Dowling, who studied mathematics as an undergraduate and is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Cambridge, is admitted to the Order of Merit for mechanical engineering (added in an update 07/01/16, thanks to Rebecca Waters in the comments).

Are there any others I’ve missed? Please add any of interest in the comments below. A full list may be obtained from the Cabinet Office website.

Happy 200th Birthday, Ada Lovelace!

ada lovelace birthday

Today marks computing and maths pioneer Ada Lovelace’s 200th birthday. In celebration we’ve rounded up a few Ada-based links from around the internet.

Ada Lovelace was a 19th-century mathematician and early computer scientist, during an era when it was uncommon for women to do such things, and worked alongside Charles Babbage. His incredible Analytical Engine, an early mechanical calculator, was studied by Ada and her most enduring work is an article she wrote about the engine and its mathematical potential.

plotly.js is now open source

plotly

Plot.ly is a fairly comprehensive tool for creating whizzy interactive charts from data. It provides a suite of tools to make a whole range of different types of charts.

Until now, it’s been a web service you send data away to in order to get a chart back. I’d always been wary of that, because I worry about what happens when Plotly the company gets sold off or goes bust, and plot.ly the service gets shut down.

Well, now I can use a little bit of plot.ly, because they’ve released the bit of the chart-drawing code that runs in your browser under the MIT open source licence, meaning anyone can use it independently of Plotly’s servers.

With just the open-source stuff, the process of creating a chart is quite torturous because you have to define what you want by following a fairly illegible JSON schema. That means there’s still a reason to use the proprietary stuff that gives you a nice interface from Python or R, though I suppose people will soon enough start making their own versions of those that just tie into the Javascript stuff.

More information

Plotly.js Open-Source Announcement

plotly.js on GitHub