The Carnival rounds up maths blog posts from all over the internet, including some from our own Aperiodical. See our Carnival of Mathematics page for more information.

]]>I was invited to give a talk for Ustinov College’s Café Scientifique on π Day this year. The turnout wasn’t great and I put quite a bit of effort into the slides, so I wanted to put it online. I’ve finally got hold of the recording, so here it is. Unfortunately they didn’t set the camera’s exposure properly, making the screen illegible, so you’ll probably want to follow along with the slides in another window.

*I tried to come up with a way of writing today’s date as a multiple of π Day, but couldn’t make it work. However, I did realise that Halloween (31/10) is the best approximation to π between now and the next π day (I think). Sπooky!*

Here’s our annual round-up of what’s happening in sums/thinking at this year’s Manchester Science Festival. If you’re local, or will be in the area around 20th-30th October, here’s our picks of the finest number-based shows, talks and events.

**Saturday 22nd October, 7pm-9pm, Manchester235 Casino**

** Tickets £6; 18+**

Dust off your tuxedos and cocktail dresses for a night at the casino… in the name of science. This cabaret-style show explores the different scientific aspects of gambling, like the probability of winning and the psychology of body language. Plus, what happens to your brain when you gamble?

Psychologist **Paul Seager** explores deception and bluffing within the game of Poker. He talks about the use of verbal and non-verbal behavioural cues (‘tells’, in Poker parlance) in figuring out whether or not your opponents are trying to pull the wool over your eyes and steal all your chips.

Mathematician **Katie Steckles** (that’s me!) reveals the probability of drawing particular cards and dice rolls, and how you can use statistics to your advantage.

Neuroscientist **Nicola Ray** explores why gambling (in its non-addictive form) is so much fun. She’ll talk about how important brain regions are “hijacked” by the games played during gambling: the same regions that are responsible for ensuring we eat, procreate and fall in love are also the ones that ensure we keep playing even when we’re losing.

Casino Royale-style black-tie dress is optional, but warmly encouraged.

**Monday 24th-Sunday 30th October, 10am-5pm, Museum of Science and Industry**

** Drop in any time; main activities over 29th-30th weekend**

Manchester MegaPixel is part of the 2016 Manchester Science Festival, during which **I **and maths ninja **Matt Parker** will be building a gigantic pixel image display by colouring individual pixels using red, green and blue pens. This will model the way computer LCD screens use red, green and blue light to display photographs and images, but on a much larger scale!

The finished pixels will be arranged inside a large window at the museum, and will be on display for people to see the completed image. The finished MegaPixel will be over 10 metres high, and consist of around 8000 individual pixels, each of which has 300 coloured segments.

We’ll be colouring and building the pixel from **Monday 24th October**, finishing on **Sunday 30th, **and will also have other activities going on at the Museum of Science and Industry during the week, so you can learn about how image displays work, and help create the MegaPixel.

**Wednesday 26th October, 7pm-10.30pm, Pub/Zoo**

** Tickets £5; 18+**

From the brains behind Bright Club and Science Showoff comes Engineering Showoff, a chance to hear the funny side of building and looking after the structures, technology and ideas that surround us. Engineers from the north west’s universities and businesses take to the stage as stand-up comedians, sharing jokes and anecdotes from their professional lives. The gig is hosted by comedian and self-professed nerd Steve Cross.

**Thursday 27th October, 7pm-10.30pm, Museum of Science and Industry**

** Tickets free; 18+**

The Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this year – which is a very fine excuse to throw a party. Grab a slice of cake and:

Find out the scientific (mathematical tho) way to cut a cake with the Guardian’s **Alex Bellos**. Decorate your own cake and learn how to avoid a soggy bottom with **MetMunch**. Discover the secret science (maths tho) behind magic tricks with magician and ex-atomic physicist **Matt Pritchard. **Explore the psychology of why we love or loathe clowns with **Ginny Smith. **Discover the maths of chocolate fountains with **Adam Townsend. **Punch a bowl of custard and play musical chairs with **Science Made Simple. **Blow up a giant DNA double helix made of balloons with the **Museum of Science and Industry’s Explainers. **Embrace your inner child with some science-inspired face painting, and get ready to bust some moves at the **#HookedOnMusic silent disco.**

Party food will be served from the Warehouse Restaurant and the bar will be open all night.

**Friday 28th October, 6.30pm-7.30pm, Portico Library**

** Tickets £5/6/7; concessions available**

**Dr Jonathan Swinton** talks about a 1949 seminar in which pioneering mathematician Alan Turing discussed artificial intelligence (AI). It was during this seminar that some of the world’s first scepticisms about AI were raised. Can a machine think? Can it love? You’ll also hear a rare recording from 1976 by Max Newman, which discusses Turing and his work.

The participants in this Mancunian conversation were a remarkable mixture of economic migrants, asylum seekers and local talent. What combinations of thought and love attracted these thinkers to the soot-black, war-weary city? And why was Turing’s tale for so long unwritten in Manchester’s own history?

**Saturday 29th October, 7pm-10pm, Museum of Science and Industry**

** Tickets £9.50; 18+**

Miss the fun bits of your school science lessons? Then you’ll be pleased to hear that *After School Science Club* is back. Join **that** **Katie Steckles** and some colourful science stars for an adults-only evening of demonstrations and interactive fun. Plus a bar. And no homework (hurrah!).

**That Matt Parker**, television’s **Andrea Sella**, BBC Naked Scientists’ **Ginny Smith** and atmospheric scientist **Sophie Haslett** will also be there to talk to you about the science of rainbows, the rainbows of science and the maths behind colour TV. There’ll also be competition prizes, a giant painting wall and live experiments. It will (100% guaranteed) be spectrum-tacular.

**Friday 28th October – Saturday 19th November, 7.30pm & 2.30pm matinees, Royal Exchange Theatre, tickets from £16.50**

**Lecture on Saturday 29th October 5pm, free, Royal Exchange Theatre**

Can machines think? Is it possible to build a machine that thinks for itself? This classic play by **Hugh Whitemore** is set in the leafy surroundings of Bletchley Park at the height of the Second World War, where a brilliant young mathematician named Alan Turing was creating a machine to secure victory for Britain.

In the aftermath of victory, Turing arrived in Manchester with an even bigger task in mind – the development of the modern computer. It would be a task he left unfinished, publicly humiliated and destroyed by the revelation of his sexuality and prosecution for indecency. Turing’s most heroic hour is intertwined with the story of his betrayal and neglect by the nation he had helped in its darkest hour. Sheffield Theatres new Artistic Director **Robert Hastie** directs BAFTA winner **Daniel Rigby** in this major revival.

Puzzlebomb is a monthly puzzle compendium. Issue 58 of Puzzlebomb, for October 2016, can be found here:

Puzzlebomb – Issue 58 – October 2016 (printer-friendly version)

The solutions to Issue 58 will be posted at the same time as Issue 57.

Previous issues of Puzzlebomb, and their solutions, can be found at Puzzlebomb.co.uk.

]]>The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to a trio of physicists: Michael Kosterlitz, Duncan Haldane and David Thouless, *“for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”*.

And here’s the maths angle – their work is in the field of **topological physics**, which relates strange matter (superconductors, superfluids and the like) to topology, via the interesting way the properties of the materials change in phases, like the different fundamental shapes of objects in topology. None of the material we’ve taken a cursory glance at so far yields a simple explanation of how these two things are linked, but they have explanatory PDFs on the Nobel website if you’d like a dig around: Popular (PDF) and Advanced (PDF).

Also, impressively many newspaper headlines seem to have failed to notice that ‘strange matter’ is actually a thing in physics, and consequently mangled it in their explanations.

Cue of course an amazing press conference in which Nobel Committee for Physics member Thors Hans Hansson holds up a bun, a bagel and a pretzel to explain the difference. Classic topology.

British scientists win Nobel prize in physics for work so baffling it had to be described using bagels, at The Telegraph (bonus points for ‘Noble prize’ typo, if it’s not been corrected yet)

Physics prize explanations on the Nobel website: Popular (PDF) and Advanced (PDF)

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Watch this video; I’ll warn you now that the squee factor gives way to some very dry detail quite quickly.

The cube was made by Tony Fisher, by filing down a 3D-printed 6mm cube. I hadn’t heard of Tony before, which surprises me – his site is full of all sorts of incredible twisty puzzles.

]]>We’d all like to wish a very happy birthday to the wonderful Richard K Guy, who turns 100 today.

Happily, Guy remains not dead in either the corporeal or Erdős sense: he’s both fit as a fiddle (he climbed a tower for charity aged 97), and active in the mathematical community.

A group of fans have recorded a tribute song, titled “Is There Still News for Me in That Old Geometry?”

The lyrics were written by ‘Blanche Descartes’ (whoever that is in this instance), and it was performed by Robert Schneider‘s Barbershop Octet.

Richard K Guy has produced an enormous amount of mathematics throughout his very long life, including some classic books. Those include *Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays* with Conway and Berlekamp, *The Book of Numbers* with Conway, and books on unsolved problems in geometry, number theory and combinatorics.

Guy is a great collaborator, famously working with John Conway and Elwyn Berlekamp on combinatorial games but also wrote four papers with Paul Erdős.

A couple of remarkable objects owe their existence to Guy: he discovered a 19-sided unistable polyhedron and the iconic Game of Life glider is another Richard K Guy discovery.

The University of Calgary, where Guy worked from 1965 until retirement, has set up a page where you can share your birthday wishes.

Emeritus professor marks a century of life and learning press release by the University of Calgary.

Happy 100th birthday Richard K Guy mini-site.

An “Infinitely Rich” Mathematician Turns 100 by top maths writer Siobhan Roberts in Nautilus magazine.

]]>Collaborative prime number searching website PrimeGrid has announced its most recent discovery: on 14th September, user Tom Greer discovered a new pair of twin primes (primes which differ by 2), namely:

\[2996863034895 \times 2^{1290000} \pm 1\]

Found using PrimeGrid’s Sophie Germain Prime search, the new discoveries are 388,342 digits long, smashing the previous twin prime record of 200,700 digits.

PrimeGrid is a collaborative project (similar to GIMPS, which searches for specifically Mersenne Primes) in which anyone who downloads their software can donate their unused CPU time to prime searching. It’s been the source of many recent prime number discoveries, including several in the last few months which rank in the top 160 largest known primes.

The University of Tennessee Martin’s Chris Caldwell maintains a database of the largest known primes, to which the new discovery has been added.

Press release from PrimeGrid (PDF)

The List of Largest Known Primes

PrimeGrid website

The new twin primes’ entries on the List of Largest Known Primes: n+1, n-1

The Carnival rounds up maths blog posts from all over the internet, including some from our own Aperiodical. See our Carnival of Mathematics page for more information.

]]>The University of Leicester says it’s facing a big budget deficit, so it’s got to make some cuts. In the current British climate, that’s nothing unusual. However, the university has decided to cut a lot more from the maths department than elsewhere.

The way they’re going to do this is to sack almost everyone, then ask them to re-apply for slightly fewer jobs than there were before. Once it’s all done, 6 of the 21 mathematicians currently working at Leicester will be out of a job.

There’s some speculation that the reason that maths is going to be hit particularly hard is that it didn’t do particularly well in the last iterations of the REF and the National Student Survey.

The Universities and Colleges Union has started a petition against the cuts, disputing the size of the deficit and the need for so many job losses. They’ve written a response laying out their side of the story. The European Mathematical Society has also said it’s very concerned.

Tim Gowers has written a bit more about what he thinks is going on on his blog. As usual, there’s some good discussion in the comments as well.

*via Yemon Choi*