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Maths Jam July 2012 – Paper Enigma

Having discovered this wonderful design for a paper Enigma machine, which uses a standard size crisp tube and does a pretty good job of encoding things like an Enigma machine, I decided it was worth trying it out. What better opportunity to use something which can encode secret messages than to send messages between two monthly Maths Jam events via the medium of Twitter? The public sending of the messages would be incomprehensible to anyone not willing to get their hands dirty with a crisp tube and scissors. Unless they’ve got an actual Enigma machine.


Anyone who hasn’t yet spotted the YouTube channel Numberphile (call yourself a maths fan?) would do well to check out its amazing selection of videos, all loosely themed around numbers – not all of which are integers, either – but now edging on giving up on that pretence and just continuing to post videos about interesting bits of maths.

Dance Your PhD: Cutting Sequences on the Double Pentagon

As a mathematician (and not just any kind of mathematician – a PURE mathematician), I heard of the “Dance Your PhD” contest and immediately burst out laughing. As much as there is some nice pure mathematical dancing out there (see, for instance, this series of videos of different numerical sorting algorithms interpreted through dance), the idea that someone’s mathematical PhD research could be conveyed via bodily gyration was both fantastical and hilarious.

Leap Second 30 June 2012

In case you missed it, here is the leap second moment. I loaded several web and desktop clock displays. Notice how many of them didn’t take account of the extra second – but some did! For more details on what this means, see the post ‘Hang on a second‘.

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