Happy Birthday to me

“Life moves very fast. It rushes from Heaven to Hell in a matter of seconds.”
― Paulo Coelho

This week, I was suddenly reminded of a fact I’d been meaning to keep track of, and I was disappointed to discover that even though I always endeavour to remember birthdays and holidays (mainly due to a system of elaborate reminders, notes and excessive list-making), I’d missed a hugely significant anniversary. Shortly after the clock struck midnight on New Year’s eve, I had passed one billion seconds old.

Not a pizza pie chart

This tweet by YouGov appeared on my feed:

Actually, for the purposes of criticism and comment, here’s a local copy of the image:

It should immediately set your data presentation colly wobbling.

The 12th Polymath project has started: resolve Rota’s basis conjecture

Timothy Chow of MIT has proposed a new Polymath project: resolve Rota’s basis conjecture.

What’s that? It’s this:

… if $B_1$, $B_2$, $\ldots$, $B_n$ are $n$ bases of an $n$-dimensional vector space $V$ (not necessarily distinct or disjoint), then there exists an $n \times n$ grid of vectors ($v_{ij}$) such that

1. the $n$ vectors in row $i$ are the members of the $i$th basis $B_i$ (in some order), and

2. in each column of the matrix, the $n$ vectors in that column form a basis of $V$.

Easy to state, but apparently hard to prove!

Watch this bold decision-maker score 100 at the “is this prime?” game

Fan of the site Ravi Fernando has written in to tell us about his high score at the “is this prime?” game: a cool century!

I’ve been a fan of your “Is this prime?” game for a while, and after seeing your blog post from last May, I thought I’d say hi and send you some high scores.  Until recently, my record was 89 numbers (last March 12), which I think may be the dot in the top right of your “human scores” graph.  But I tried playing some more a couple weeks ago, and I found I can go a little faster using my computer’s y/n buttons instead of my phone’s touch screen.  It turns out 100 numbers is possible!

Watch in amazement:

But, to the delight of prime fans everywhere, he didn’t stop there:

Today I even got 107 – good to have a prime record again.

Well done, Ravi!

Now is a good time to point out that the data on every attempt ever made at the game is available to download, in case you want to do your own analysis: at time of writing, there have been over 625,000 attempts, and 51 is still the number that catches people out the most.

George Boole statue to be erected in Lincoln

It was George Boole’s bicentenary in 2015, so the Heslam Trust is a bit slow to reveal its plans to erect a statue of the great man in his home town of Lincoln.

The sculptors, Martin Jennings and Antony Dufort, have come up with a few designs for the statue, and they’d like the public to vote for their favourite.

There’s already a bust of Boole in University College, Cork, installed in plenty of time for the bicentenary. Here’s a picture of me and HRH Poppy Dog standing next to it, last Summer.

More information

Lincoln maths genius to get statue in city – and here are the designs at LincolnshireLive

Proposals for George Boole monument on the City of Lincoln council website

View the proposals and vote

Hans Rosling and Raymond Smullyan have died

Why should I worry about dying? It’s not going to happen in my lifetime!

Raymond Smullyan, This Book Needs No Title (1986)

This week, the mathematical community has lost not one but two of its most beloved practitioners. Earlier this week, Swedish statistician Hans Rosling passed away aged 68, and today it’s been announced that author and logician Raymond Smullyan has also died, aged 97.