When I have been involved with running exams (I wasn’t, really, this year), special care seems to be made to spread these out so that where possible students don’t get exams bunched together. Still, I’ve heard students complain “we only have one day off between the Monday and Wednesday exams, that isn’t enough time to revise for the second topic”. I have a lot of sympathy for this; assessing a module (or proportion thereof) by how you perform in a one-, two- or three-hour window is quite a problematic arrangement, and if you haven’t had sufficient time to get up to speed on the topic, even more so. But I have had in mind that, essentially, “when I were a lad, we had it much worse”. Clearing out some boxes to move house, I found exam timetables from five of the six semesters I spent as an undergraduate, so now I can confirm or refute my feeling on this, in the latest of my series of posts that are surely only of interest to me.

# Binary/Nail Varnish Puzzle – solution

Previously, we posted about Katie’s Binary Nail varnish tutorial video, and how you can use glitter (`1`

) and no glitter (`0`

) to encode binary messages in your nail varnish. We also posted an accompanying puzzle, stated as:

**Suppose I want to paint my nails on one hand differently every day for a month – so I need to use all 31 combinations involving glitter. Assuming that a nail painted with plain varnish can have glitter added, but a nail with glitter needs to be nail-varnish-removed before it can become a plain nail again, what order do I apply the different combinations so that you minimise the amount of nail varnish remover I’ll need to use?**

Here’s our take on the solution.

# New MathJax accessibility extensions provide collapsible expressions and maths-to-speech

MathJax, the web library that provides LaTeX-quality mathematical typesetting, has received a a new set of tools to improve accessibility of mathematical notation. The new MathJax Accessibility Extensions add on-the-fly speech rendering of notation, and a tool to explore expressions through intelligent collapsing and expanding of sub-expressions.

# Puzzlebomb – June 2016

Puzzlebomb is a monthly puzzle compendium. Issue 54 of Puzzlebomb, for June 2016, can be found here:

Puzzlebomb – Issue 54 – June 2016

The solutions to Issue 54 can be found here:

Puzzlebomb – Issue 54 – June 2016 – Solutions (printer-friendly version)

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

# Carnival of Mathematics 135

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of May, and compiled by Gaurish, is now online at Gaurish4Math.

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.

# Particularly mathematical Birthday Honours 2016

With the announcement the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, it’s time for the latest in our ongoing Honours-watch series of posts. In this, we search arbitrarily for ‘mathematics’ in the PDFs of the various lists, and hope our well-informed readers fill in the blanks where actual knowledge is required.

- Prof. Alice Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, King’s College, London, appointed OBE for services to Mathematics Education and Higher Education.
- John Sidwell, volunteer, HMP Hewell appointed MBE for services to Prisoners through One to One Maths.
- Danielle George, vice-dean for teaching and learning, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Manchester, appointed MBE for services to engineering through public engagement.
- Anthony Finkelstein, professor of software systems engineering, University College London and the Alan Turing Institute, for services to computer science and engineering.
- Economist Angus Deaton, professor, Princeton University, Nobel laureate, for services to research in economics and international affairs.
- Prof. Alan Thorpe, lately Director-General of the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, appointed OBE for services to environmental science and research (thanks to Philip Browne on Twitter).
- Prof. Nalini Joshi was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO); the citation is more involved than the UK ones and reads “for distinguished service to mathematical science and tertiary education as an academic, author and researcher, to professional societies, and as a role model and mentor of young mathematicians” (added in an update 16/06/16).

It’s also worth mentioning the new batch of Regius professorships, 12 posts created at universities around the UK to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday: Oxford University has been given a professorship in maths, but no appointment has been made yet.

Are there any others we’ve missed? Please add any of interest in the comments below. A full list may be obtained from the Cabinet Office website.

# Just how big is a big proof?

With news that a recent proof of the Boolean Pythagorean Triples Theorem is the ‘largest proof ever’, we collect and run-down some of the biggest, baddest, proofiest chunks of monster maths.