“Mathematics: The Winton Gallery” opens at Science Museum

Image by Jody Kingzett

The Science Museum in London has for a long time had a maths gallery; if you didn’t already know that, it’s probably because it was old, stuffy, full of random maths objects (so, very cool if you’re me), and not very easy to find. They’ve updated the gallery, working with the architect Dame Zaha Hadid, to produce a new space which hopefully brings the gallery up to date.

After a preview opening event, reports seem to be largely positive – the gallery has taken the approach of focusing on the way mathematics impacts the real world, rather than the actual maths itself. It contains lots of interesting artefacts and stories about the history of the way people have interacted with mathematics, although according to observers, no equations (boo!).

It’s been written up by a few design-focused websites, but the best articles to get a sense of it are Alex Bellos’ write-up in the Guardian, and a piece by BBC arts editor Will Gompertz (although one wonders if the BBC couldn’t have sent their science, or in a magical fairyland, maths correspondent to cover this).

The gallery is open at the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, starting 8th December, daily from 10am-6pm, and is free to visit.

More information

Mathematics: The Winton Gallery on the Science Museum website

Paper about student use of a learning space in mathematics

Sheffield Hallam University Maths DepartmentOne of the nice things about working in mathematics at Sheffield Hallam University is the environment in which I work. The maths department is a big, open learning space for students surrounded by staff offices. It’s a busy place, full of activity and plenty of opportunities to interact with students and other staff.

This space was renovated for mathematics a little before I arrived. It was designed to enhance student engagement and to create this sense of community, to allow collaborative learning and encourage inter-year interactions.

Over the last year, we conducted a study of use of the space. This included observations of use of the space as well as questionnaires and interviews with students about their use of the space, including students who had studied in the department in the old and new locations.

The results have just been published as ‘The role of informal learning spaces in enhancing student engagement with mathematical sciences‘ by Jeff Waldock, Peter Rowlett, Claire Cornock, Mike Robinson & Hannah Bartholomew, which is online now and will appear in a future issue of International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology (doi:10.1080/0020739X.2016.1262470).

Rubik’s cube manufacturer loses trademark battle

After all the excitement of the UK Rubik’s cube championships last weekend, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that after 10-year legal battle, the trademark on the shape of the Rubik’s cube is not valid.

The trademark was registered in 1999, but since the original design of the cube was never patented, it’s long been on shaky ground. The court has ruled that the shape of the cube alone is not enough to protect it from copying, and that a patent would be needed to do so. The implications are that licensed manufacturers of the game could now face more competition from cheaper overseas sellers.

More information

Rubik’s Cube puzzled after losing EU trademark battle, at The Guardian
Rubik’s Cube shape not a trademark, rules top EU court, at BBC News