### abc: the story so far

You should take some time to read this very well-written piece about Shin Mochizuki’s claimed proof of the abc conjecture: “The Paradox of the Proof”, by Caroline Chen.

It covers the story from all angles: a biog of Mochizuki, a clear, non-nonsense description of the conjecture, the tale of the mathematical community’s attempts to understand it, and some insightful rumination on the nature of proof.

via Marcus du Sautoy on Twitter, among others

(TL;DR – still nobody knows whether the proof is correct or not)

### Art for a maths department

I don’t think the university maths department I work in has enough art in it. I have gazed covetously upon the walls of other departments I visit, covered with beautiful mathematically-inspired paintings and inspirational posters, serving as a backdrop to cabinets full of geometrical curiosities. I recently suggested to our Head of School that we could buy some art, and he said “That’s a good idea. Send me some suggestions.”

I was pretty delighted with that response, so I spent an enjoyable hour trawling the internet for art that would inspire and enrich our students and staff. We don’t really have anywhere obvious to put sculptures, so I wanted something you can hang on a wall. I had no idea how much money the Head of School was thinking of spending, so I assumed the worst and tried to stick to cheap posters and prints as a starting point. I wasn’t just looking for art – anything to decorate the walls, even if it ends up teaching the students something, is desirable.

My first port of call was my Arty Maths blog. I’ve been collecting nice bits of art that invoke or involve maths (and not art created purely to represent maths) for almost two years now. Unfortunately, it turns out I’ve almost exclusively been collecting sculptures and video works. That meant I had to do some googling!

Because I found some nice things, and in case anyone else is tasked with decorating a maths department and needs ideas, here’s what I found:

### IMA seeks mathematical images for anniversary book

You may have heard rumours that the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications is producing a book, published by Oxford University Press, in celebration of its fiftieth anniversary next year. The book will contain accessible and thought-provoking articles on a wide variety of topics through the spectrum of mathematics and its applications.

They’ve now announced that they’re additionally in search of images to illustrate the book, and are seeking submissions. Here’s an extract from their request for submissions.

Illustrations, photographs, computer simulations or even clever doodles — anything that’s colourful and inspirational. […] The idea is that these images should be able to stand alone, like pictures in an art gallery, with minimal explanation. They should ideally be approximately square or portrait style and sufficiently striking to be readable when reproduced at a size of approximately 10cm^2. You need to hold the copyright for the image. […] We also plan to reuse the best images (fully credited to you) in publicity for the IMA, especially its 50th Anniversary.

We’re assuming that here “10cm^2” means 10cm by 10cm, and not having an area of 10cm2, meaning $\sqrt{10}$cm by $\sqrt{10}$cm. Submissions are to be emailed, in a low resolution format initially, to ima50@maths.cam.ac.uk by or before 12th May 2013, along with any appropriate explanation or attribution text, using the word IMAGE in the header.

The IMA is also holding a competition, open to all IMA members, for articles to go in the book. Details of their anniversary celebrations, and the competition, can be found on the IMA website.

We want your maths images! at Plus Magazine

IMA 50th Anniversary

### The Maths of Star Trek: The Original Series (Part I)

As you may well know, Star Trek was a science fiction TV show in the late 1960s. It featured futuristic technology and science fiction ideas such as warp drives, transporters, strange new worlds, time travel, and green alien space babes. And the possibility of all these things has, in the past, been discussed by experts, and nerds, in great detail. Especially that last one about green space babes.

But dammit, I’m a mathematician, not a physicist. So, instead of talking about the science of Star Trek yet again, what about the maths of Star Trek? After all, Star Trek is science fiction, but there is no such thing as maths fiction – so any mathematics featured on the show is sure to be on firmer ground. Right? Or as Spock himself says in ‘The Conscience of the King’;

SPOCK: Even in this corner of the galaxy, Captain, two plus two equals four.

Should we even expect much maths to feature on a simple space adventure show? In fact, many interesting mathematical ideas were raised during the show’s short run of 79 episodes, including; the probability we are alone in universe; a paradox that upset 20th century mathematicians as well as 23rd century androids; the mathematics of alien and Earth biology; and the most important question of all – when on a dangerous away mission, does the colour of your shirt really affect your chances of survival?

### Dara O Briain: School of Hard Sums Series 2 starts Wednesday 1st May

Kit Yates tweets to tell us that the second series of Dara O Briain: School of Hard Sums will be shown Wednesdays at 8pm from 1st May on Dave. Kit also makes this bold claim: “I set the problems so let me know if you have feedback”. Pedants, go! That’s @Kit_Yates_Maths on Twitter.

The following promo is available. I notice that YouTube commenter Vergast has left the following considered review: “This is a thing? Aweome!”

### The Aperiodical is one!

Happy 25/4! On this day in history:

• in 1840 Siméon Poisson died :(
• in 1849 Felix Klein was born :)
• in 1903 Andre Kolmogorov was born :)
• in 2012 The Aperiodical launched! :D

So we’re a year old. Thanks for reading! Have a slice of cake:

To celebrate, CP has been hard at work redesigning the site. Hope you like it!

### Happy Birthday Euler!

Today is Euler’s $-306 \times e^{i \pi}$th birthday, and Google have chosen to celebrate (despite ignoring several other prominent mathematical birthdays, including Erdős’s centenary – see the @MathsHistory twitter feed for a full list) by creating a Google doodle on their homepage.

For anyone who isn’t aware, this is when Google changes the image above the search box on the homepage at Google.com, so it still says ‘Google’ but using an appropriate image, which sometimes has built-in interactive elements. I thought it was worth pointing out some of the fantastic maths they’ve included in today’s doodle.