Podcast Episode 17: History with Noel-Ann Bradshaw, al-Kharazmi

These are the show notes for episode 17 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast. 17 is prime, the only prime of the form pq + qp, where p and q are prime. More about the number 17 from Number Gossip.

In the regular Maths History series, Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich and also Meetings Co-ordinator of the British Society for the History of Mathematics talks about the life of al-Kharazmi. You can read a biography of al-Kharazmi at the MacTutor History of Maths Archive, read more information on the al-Kharazmi page at Wikipedia and find out about the concept of Algorithms at Wikipedia and a history of algebra at algebra.com.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by reading this blog and visiting www.ima.org.uk/student.

Most southerly maths careers

University of Plymouth sign
This week I went to the University of Plymouth for a Maths & Stats careers event. This took the form of 3 parallel sessions of 2 speakers each which repeated once, in which representatives of various employers (many Plymouth alumni) gave talks on their careers. Before the first session was a lunch and in between the sessions there was a tea break, during both of which I operated an IMA stall among a couple of others.

IMA stall at careers event in Plymouth
I took my usual approach, baiting mathematicians with interesting puzzles and then slipping careers advice into their hands and telling them about the IMA when they’re drawn in. This had the usual selection of puzzles, plus a couple of others I bought or was bought over Christmas (thank you Scott!). I made sure everyone left the stall with a postcard advertising the Maths Careers website, an IMA Maths Careers Advice leaflet and a flyer advertising the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. I had a really enjoyable day and I think it was useful for the students and the IMA as well. I gave out 80 of these leaflets to students plus a couple to the careers staff and a couple to the maths staff so hoping that will do some good!

I didn’t see very much of Plymouth, as I was only able to stay for about half an hour either side of the 4 hour careers event. Alas, I didn’t find time to see the sea. I could at one point see that a couple of streets away the buildings stopped, a clear indication I have reached the edge of the world. I walked past a couple of interesting pubs, including one called The Fresher & Professor, which for some reason has Herbie The Love Bug sticking out of the top!

Fresher and Professor

Circles, round and otherwise, and after-talk networking at Birmingham

Last week I attended an enjoyable talk by Dr. Chris Sangwin on some of the interesting results from his book with John Bryant, “How Round is Your Circle?” at the invitation of the University of Birmingham Mathsoc. This was followed by an after-talk networking session put on by the Mathsoc using an IMA University Liaison Grant, which was a nice atmosphere for students and staff to mingle.

You can watch a video of Chris demonstrating the property of solids of constant width on YouTube and there is further information in the book and through the website at www.howround.com.

Careers in Greenwich

Last week I visited the University of Greenwich and gave a lunchtime session on careers. I talked about careers for mathematicians, skills of maths graduates and an overview of the IMA. This was followed by a CV writing session to make it up to an hour and I think this combination of me giving a talk followed by a skills session was a strong one. Noel-Ann Bradshaw, who organised this session, was kind enough to write a nice piece on this over at the IMA RUMS blog. I have retrospectively written a title and abstract for this talk as I plan to give it several more times this month:

What do mathematics graduates do? And what skills do employers think they lack?

This talk will highlight some of the broad range of careers options for mathematics graduates and point to several sources of career inspiration. Following this is information on the skills a maths degree gives you and those it perhaps does not. Looking at what skills employers think mathematics graduates lack will help you in finding a job – when you sit down in a job interview, what skills is the person opposite you expecting that you lack? Being able to surprise them may just get you the job! The talk rounds off with a look at the benefits of professional membership and some information about the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

Podcast Episode 16 – Chris Bailey, Cutty Sark Restoration

These are the show notes for episode 16 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 16 is the only number of the form x^y=y^x with x and y as different integers, being both 2^4 and 4^2. More about the number 16 from Number Gossip.

I visited the University of Greenwich last summer and spoke with Professor Chris Bailey, who is working on the conservation of the Cutty Sark project. You can read more about the Cutty Sark at the Cutty Sark website. There is an article about Chris’ work on the Cutty Sark from the Independent, read “How Greenwich University is helping to rebuild the Cutty Sark“. You can read a good introduction with plenty of suggestions for further readings on the Wikipedia page for Reliability engineering.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by reading this blog and visiting www.ima.org.uk/student.

Podcast: Episode 15 – Maths news with Sarah Shepherd

These are the show notes for episode 15 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast . 15 is the number of letters in the words “uncopyrightable” and “dermatoglyphics”, which in English are the only two longest words there are without repeating a letter. This fact and more about the number 15 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.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen has expressed concerned at the prospect of a prenatal test for autism, that this could affect . Read “Autism test ‘could hit maths skills'” from the BBC News website .

The government have launched a campaign which encourages people to improve their numeracy by playing darts. Read “Play darts to help improve your maths skills” from the Telegraph.

England’s Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) have said that interest and recruitment in teaching are up in the global economic crisis. Read “Downturn ‘boosts teacher numbers'” from the BBC.

The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics have released a collection of video clips on their website showing maths being used in work context, “Maths in Work“.

The BBC reported that some schools will being piloting a new “twinned” GCSE. Read “Maths piloted as ‘twinned’ GCSEs” from the BBC.

The New Scientist report on a study which has proposed a solution to the mystery of what happened to the Beagle 2 spacecraft. Read “Flaw may have sent Beagle 2 to a fiery doom” from the New Scientist.

Professor Martin Taylor has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours List. Read “Honour for Royal Society luminary” from the BBC.

There is an interesting interview with the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy – described as “head cheerleader for British science” – in the Times. Read “News Review interview: Marcus Du Sautoy”.

There are two stories covered elsewhere on this blog on the benefits of being a mathematician and the benefits of professional membership.

KPMG claim that children who are bad at maths at school end up costing the taxpayer up to £2.4bn a year. Read “UK maths failures ‘cost £2.4bn'” from the BBC.

England pupils have risen in an international league table for mathematics, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Read “English pupils get better at maths and science – but enjoy them less” from the Guardian.

The charity Sense about Science have warned against celebrities misleading claims about science, including Mariah Carey, Delia Smith and Tom Cruise. Read “Stars ‘misleading’ about science” from the BBC.

Finally, I recommended those who are interested in more maths content read Plus Magazine – where I mentioned the story “Automated mathematics” and the careers interview with mathematician and actor Victoria Gould – and iSquared Magazine, where Sarah told us what was in the current issue of iSquared – articles on turing machines, Einstein’s theories of relativitity and a review of the BBC4 programme “The Story of Maths”, now out on DVD. I said university students ought to be receiving an email copy of articles from the IMA members publication Mathematics Today and if they weren’t they should email me.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by reading this blog and visiting www.ima.org.uk/student.

Maths = A Good Job

I was pointed to a piece in the New York Times which says that being a mathematician is the best job in the U.S. A study evaluated 200 occupations against five criteria: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress. Being a mathematician – a career path that the New York Times says provides a “steady stream of lucrative, low-stress jobs” – came top of the list, followed by Actuary and Statistician. So all of the top three are jobs for mathematics graduates.