Podcast: Episode 37 – David Mitchell, Channel coding and maths in engineering

These are the show notes for episode 37 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 37 is prime, the number you get if a three digit number having the same digits is divided by its digit sum. More about 37 from Number Gossip.

This week on the podcast we hear from David Mitchell of the University of Edinburgh, who is doing a collaborative PhD between the Schools of Mathematics and Engineering. David talks about his area channel coding and about the links between mathematics and engineering.

You can view slides from an IBM talk on channel coding for an introduction. You can read careers profiles of mathematicians working in engineering on the Maths Careers website, where you can also find advice on taking postgraduate study.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast: Episode 36 – Maths news with Sarah Shepherd

These are the show notes for episode 36 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 36 is the smallest number (besides 1) which is both square and triangular. More about 36 from Number Gossip.

This week on the podcast I met Sarah Shepherd, PhD student at the University of Nottingham and Editor of iSquared Magazine and we discussed some maths news. Links to all the articles we mentioned are below.

Evolution of numeracy
Report on various studies into the ability of animals to do basic arithmetic. Read “Animals that count: How numeracy evolved” in New Scientist.

Bill Lionheart’s electric fish
Professor Bill Lionheart at University of Manchester is interested how the Black Ghost Knife Fish generates electric fields to help his work in Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT). Read “Fish + electricity = new treatment” at BBC Manchester.

Jamitons
A new model has been developed to try to explain ‘phantom’ traffic jams. Read “Mathematicians take aim at ‘phantom’ traffic jams” at MIT news.

Deal or No Deal
Article looks the behaviour of contestants in the game show Deal or No Deal, whether they are guided by mathematics or superstition, following a feature on the BBC’s More or Less radio programme. Read “The odds of Deal or No Deal” from the BBC.

Dara O’Briain
Interview with Dara O’Briain covers his background in mathematical physics and dislike of “pseudoscience”. Also on what brought him to stand up comedy. Read “Graduate Special: Mock the geek” in New Scientist.

Gender
The piece on male under-performance and the link to GCSE is “GCSEs blamed for boys not going to university” in the Guardian. The UK gender differences in science are compared with other countries in “Science gender gap ‘widest in UK’” from the BBC. The discussion of the reason for gender bias in the US is covered in “The Math Gender Gap Explained” in Newsweek and is covered in the blog post “Gender gap in maths driven by social factors, not biological differences” at the Not Exactly Rocket Science blog.

Mathematicians in Sport
I mentioned Leeds Rugby player Ryan Hall, Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy, cricketer Claire Taylor and Commonwealth light-heavyweight boxer Nathan Cleverly, all sports people in the news with a mathematics background.

A Level Sat Nav
A report by think-tank Reform says teenagers are being ‘spoon-fed’ A-Levels, especially in maths. Read “Think-tank Reform says pupils are ‘spoon-fed’ with sat-nav A levels” in the Times.

Marcus du Sautoy
Marcus du Sautoy’s Sexy Maths column has recent features on swine flu and game theory. Marcus’ piece on sparking off an interest in maths, “The secret life of numbers“, in the Guardian and its accompanying mathematical architecture tour with 11 images of buildings of mathematical interest.

Royal Society Summer Science – How do shapes fill space?
The 2009 Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society includes an exhibit How do shapes fill space? by a team led by mathematician Edmund Harriss, which looks at how space can be filled with shapes and what this can tell about the natural world and medieval art. Watch a video on the exhibition in a previous blog post.

iSquared
Summer issue of iSquared features an inteview with crowd modeller Keith Still plus articles on Archimedes, the financial crisis and the mathematical modelling of water pollution. For more visit the iSquared Magazine Website.

Plus
The winners of the Plus New Writers Award 2009 have been announced. You can read the winning entries (2 in each of three categories – school, university and general public) along with other articles in the latest issue of Plus.

I mentioned a piece on the IMA RUMS blog from Heriot-Watt about “Setting up a Maths Society“.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Royal Society Summer Science 2009 – my interest

Below is a video from the BBC about the Royal Society Summer Science 2009 exhibition. This interests me in two ways:

Firstly, not featured in the video is Edmund Harriss and his team who have taken a mathematics exhibit to the show, “How do Shapes Fill Space?” This is good news and will be mentioned on this week’s Travels in a Mathematical World maths news podcast, which will come out slightly too late!

Secondly, featured in the video is an exhibition on super water repellent surfaces from a group of physicists I know at Nottingham Trent University. In fact, the chap with his top off on the bed of nails is Professor Glen McHale who is Associate Dean for Research and so has a not inconsiderable say in whether I get my PhD.

Unfortunately I can’t go as I am not in London this week. If you can, between 30 June – 4 July, visitor information is on the website.

Podcast: Episode 35 – Terry Edwards – Chartered Mathematician

These are the show notes for episode 35 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 35 is the sum of the cubes of the first two primes. More about 35 from Number Gossip.

This week on the podcast I talked over a little of the content from my careers talk and asked Terry Edwards, the IMA Services Officer for Professional Affairs, some questions about professional development and Chartered Mathematician status. You can find out more about this by visiting the Professional Affairs section of the IMA website. Specifically, you can read about the Initial Professional Development reporting scheme, about Chartered Mathematician and Chartered Scientist levels. You can read a little about the benefit of professional membership and chartered status from a recent piece in the Times.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast: Episode 34 – Eugenia Cheng, Category theory

These are the show notes for episode 34 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 34 is the magic constant of a 4 by 4 normal magic square. More about 34 from Number Gossip. There is a good page on magic squares from markfarrar.co.uk.

This week on the podcast I speak to Dr. Eugenia Cheng from the University of Sheffield who talks about category theory. You can find out more about Eugenia’s work at her website. If you are interested to find out more about category theory, an excellent place to start is to watch Eugenia on TheCatsters YouTube channel. There are an interesting set of slides, “Category Theory for Beginners” by Dr Steve Easterbrook of the University of Toronto and a set of notes “An ABC of Category Theory” by Tom Leinster of the University of Glasgow.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Echoes in an empty room

A little while ago I found a post on another blog “Blogging for the Working Mathematician: Another mathematical blog and podcast” by Jan Grabowski. This contains a description of my podcast. In contrast to other links I have seen to the podcast, this does not simply repeat my own description but appears to be an original interpretation from a listener.

I record the podcasts on my travels, usually, and edit them mostly on trains. I then sit in my office or living room and record my bits – the hello and goodbye sections. This is quite a strange experience, sitting and speaking into an empty room. I then put the podcast episodes online and people download them (I have seen the logs, they are definitely downloaded). What happens next is a mystery. I hope people listen to the episodes they download and enjoy them but it is hard for me to say. I know the few people I have met on my travels who listen have told me they enjoy the podcast, sometimes people retweet the links on Twitter and I have seen links to the podcast from other sites, which are good signs. 21 people have declared themselves “fans” of the podcast on Facebook (this is a small proportion of weekly downloads). It would be good to know what happens beyond me speaking into an empty room.

This is why Jan’s blog post is fantastic news. It is a message back from beyond the empty room that is obviously not just an echo of something I have said about the podcast. Someone is definitely receiving and listening to the podcast and has thought well enough of it to write a blog post describing it to his readers. This is very heartening. I recommend you go and read Jan’s description. I used it as a PowerPoint slide a few weeks ago when I spoke to the Maths Promotors’ Network as a description of podcast, rather than giving my own version. The Blogging for the Working Mathematician blog is an occasional one in which Jan picks out mathematical and science items which interest him from around the web and features a blogroll of interesting mathematical blogs.