There’s been a lot of maths news this month, but we’ve all been too busy to keep up with it. So, in case you missed anything, here’s a summary of the biggest stories this month. We’ve got two new facts about primes, the best way of packing spheres in lots of dimensions, and the ongoing debate about the place of maths in society, as well as the place of society in maths.
A surprisingly simple pattern in the primes
Kannan Soundararajan and Robert Lemke Oliver have noticed that the last digits of adjacent prime numbers aren’t uniformly distributed – if one prime ends in a 1, for example, the next prime number is less likely to end in a 1 than another odd digit. Top maths journos Evelyn Lamb and Erica Klarreich have both written very accessible pieces about this, in the Nature blog and Quanta magazine, respectively.
Oliver and Soundararajan’s paper on the discovery is titled “Unexpected biases in the distribution of consecutive primes”.
Gender inclusivity in mathematics at Harvard
Some mathematicians at Harvard have formed an organisation called “Gender inclusivity in mathematics”, which is dedicated to “creating a community of mathematicians particularly welcoming to women interested in math and reducing the gender gap in Harvard’s math department.”
They’re running a series of talks by invited speakers and discussion events, and hope to run a conference on women in mathematics this academic year.
More information: Gender inclusivity in mathematics at Harvard
via Nalini Joshi on Twitter
National Numeracy Family Maths Toolkit
The National Numeracy campaign, a British charity aiming to improve numeracy in adults as well as children, has relaunched its Parent Toolkit as the Family Maths Toolkit. It contains advice for parents on promoting good attitudes towards maths, as well as ideas for activities to get the whole family enthused and practised in maths. There’s also a section with information to help school teachers support parental engagement with maths.
Visit: Family Maths Toolkit
Pixar in a Box
Khan Academy has partnered with Pixar to produce a subsection of their site which explains some of the maths involved in computer animation. There are the usual videos explaining individual topics, but also plenty of interactive diagrams so you can play along at home. It’s also nice to see some “Get to know …” videos, which present real animators who work at Pixar, talking about why they got into computer animation.
Visit: Pixar in a Box, at Khan Academy
Anna Haensch and Annie Rorem are the hosts of a new podcast, The Other Half. This is the second of two posts based on the first episode, about racism and segregation.
In the first part of episode one, we use the Racial Dot Map to get a sense of what race looks like in our country. And while it certainly gives us a picture of the stark racial lines segregating in our communities, it doesn’t necessarily help us understand how we got to be this way, and perhaps
more relevant, how we can fix this. In the second part of episode one we look at Parable of the Polygons, a playable blog post by Vi Hart and Nicky Case, to help us understand these slightly more nuanced questions.
Anna Haensch and Annie Rorem are the hosts of a new podcast, The Other Half. This post is based on the first episode, about racism and segregation.
In episode one of The Other Half, we look to mathematics as a potential tool for understanding racism and segregation in our society. To get a sense of the extent of segregation in the United States, we turn to a beautiful, startling tool to visualize it. Literally.
An Australian sanitary pad company has hit upon a witty tagline for their product:
Literally thousands of people have signed a petition to tell Libra that that’s not OK.
The London Mathematical Society (LMS) have developed a “Good Practice Scheme” which aims to help university mathematics departments “to take practical actions to improve the participation of women and to share examples of good practice with other departments.”