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No pardon for Turing

A government minister in the Ministry of Justice, Lord McNally, in response to a question from Lord Sharkey on Thursday 2nd February 2012 made a statement in the House or Lords that “a posthumous pardon [for Alan Turing] was not considered appropriate”.

The statement acknowledges that the offence of which Turing was convicted “now seems both cruel and absurd” but says that Turing “would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted”. This says that the:

long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times.

Back when the pardon petition was launched in November 2011, John Graham-Cumming, the man responsible for the Turing apology petition in 2009, wrote a blog post explaining why he did not support the pardon petition: Why I’m not supporting the campaign for a pardon for Alan Turing (26 November 2011).

On the Math/Maths Podcast this week Samuel Hansen spoke convincingly about a pardon, above an apology, as having the effect of removing the conviction, not merely apologising for it. Graham-Cumming points to the Protection of Freedoms bill, currently passing through the House of Lords, which:

specifically allows for the disregarding of convictions under the old law that was used against Turing. Once disregarded the law causes their convictions to be deleted. It’s not quite the same thing as a pardon, but its effect is to lift the burden of a criminal record from these living men [those who are “still hurt by that law”].

Math/Maths 84: A π-curious Nerd

Math/Maths 84 is now available.

A conversation about mathematics between the UK and USA from This week Peter spoke with special guest Matt Parker about Festival Of The Spoken Nerd, Your Days Are Numbered, use of the word ‘geek’ and the Telegraph Numeracy campaign, and with Samuel, live from the streets of New York City, spoke about: superbowl math; The Crafoord Prize; John Leech MP says Alan Turing should be pardoned; singingbanana code challenge 2012; Non-transitive Grime Dice; Facebook-type Mathematics networking site; Torus Games & more.

Conference: IMA Mathematics 2012

The seventh annual IMA “Mathematics” conference will take place on Thursday 22 March 2012 in London. The website has the following details:

Mathematics 2012 is the seventh in the series of annual IMA conferences to promote mathematics. This series aims to demonstrate to both mathematicians and non mathematicians the many uses of modern mathematics. The work of the speakers this year includes the food industry, defence, finance and government. Also included are current topics in mathematics such as the promotion of mathematics to a wider audience and the interface between school and university mathematics.
We hope that the audience will have mathematicians, those who work with mathematicians in policy forming roles, and anyone who has an interest in developments in the applications of mathematics.

A list of speakers and topics, plus registration details, are available via the IMA website.

IMA: Mathematics 2012.

Open mic for science communication

Science Showoff promises “open mic for all communicators of science” and aims to be

a place where people from all the bits of the science communication industry could share their latest work, in a performance-based way, and then chew it over with a pint in hand (or a whisky in hand). We also wanted it to be democratic, with space for people we see all the time, as well as people we’ve never seen perform before.

Science Showoff will run its fifth night in London in the evening of Tuesday 7th February. The gig is free with a collection for London Wildlife Trust. There are ten acts covering a range of sciences and here are three I would be most looking forward to (if I was anywhere near London):

Katie Steckles, who is well known in maths communication, will present a session on Fibonacci and the Golden Ratio:

A lot of people have heard of the Golden Ratio, but many, even those who have read Dan Brown books, might not know exactly what it is. I will give several illustrative explanations, using stuffed rabbits and slagging off TV presenters, and hopefully give you some idea of why I think it’s incredibly lovely.

Helen Arney, one third of Festival of the Spoken Nerd, promises:

I’ll be trying out a new singalong song that encompasses time, space, mathematics and philosophy. Features live powerpoint!

Rhys Phillips, who featured on the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast episode 63, talking about lightning:

Rhys “Lightning” Phillips will be looking at what happens when planes are hit by lightning and showing cool videos of things going bang in a lightning lab! He’ll also be pondering on why song writers think that lightning is frightening.

Full line up: Science Showoff 5 (will make you get down) LINE-UP ANNOUNCED(1 February 2012).

singingbanana code challenge

James Grime, of the Enigma project and guest editor of the February 2012 code month at Nrich, has posted a code breaking challenge on his YouTube channel singingbanana. The prize is a signed copy of Simon Singh’s The Code Book. You can get the ciphertext to decrypt along with a couple of clues presented with James’ trademark charm in the video singingbanana code challenge 2012. The winner and solution will be announced in March.

(Edited 11:28 to add link to Nrich Codes and Ciphers – February 2012 page.)

Three new Mathematics Matters case studies

Three new case studies have been posted to the IMA’s Mathematics Matters series. This aims to address the following problem:

The industry and technology that surrounds us owes a great debt to modern mathematics research, yet this fact is perfectly hidden in its physical manifestation. The concern with this state of affairs is that what is unknown cannot be appreciated or valued.

The new case studies, on finding replacements for fossil fuels and finding a new, non-invasive, way to monitor diabetes, takes the total now available to 26.

IMA: Mathematics Matters.