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Measuring π with a pendulum


Matt Parker approximating pi using a pie

Friends of the Aperiodical, nerd-comedy troupe Festival of the Spoken Nerd, are currently on tour around the UK. As part of their show, questionably titled You Can’t Polish a Nerd, Matt Parker attempts to calculate the value of $\pi$ using only a length of string and some meat encased in pastry. He’s previously done this on YouTube, and the idea was inspired by the Aperiodical’s 2015 Pi Approximation Challenge, and in particular my own attempt to approximate $\pi$ with a (more conventional) pendulum.

Festival of the Spoken Nerd in geographical relocation shocker

Anticapitalists, please note: This post is categorised “not-directly-paid-for friendertisement”. We’re plugging a thing our friends do because we think it’s good, but alas, they make money off it. Please read with caution.

SpokenNerd_photoby_IdilSukan_DrawHQ_05bFans of mathematics and science in general will be pleased to hear that they no longer have to travel long distances to see comedy show Festival of the Spoken Nerd – as it’s on tour! The show features Stand-up Mathematician and friend of the Aperiodical Matt Parker, as well as some-time mathematician Steve Mould, and singer of science and maths songs Helen Arney. The comedy trio are visiting over 30 locations around the UK and performing their new show, Full Frontal Nerdity, which I’m assured ‘contains strong language and spreadsheets’, and is guaranteed to ‘feed your brain, tickle your ribs and light your Bunsen burner’. It’s a longer version of the show they performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, and would make a great group night out for a maths department or other gathering of scientifically-minded humans (just saying).

Full details of the show, and a list of dates, can be found at the Festival of the Spoken Nerd website.


Maths at the Fringe

Starting next week, the historic city of Edinburgh will be taken over by entertainers of all types, performing comedy, dance, theatre and music, entertaining visitors to their massive world-famous festival fringe. Since discerning mathematicians sometimes also enjoy being entertained, I thought I’d write a roundup of the shows maths has non-empty intersection with.

First up, since we haven’t mentioned him in a while, it’s Alan Turing! No, his reanimated corpse isn’t performing edgy stand-up, but theatre company Idle Motion is performing a visual theatre piece entitled That Is All You Need To Know, celebrating the work of Bletchley Park codebreakers. Alan Turing Alan Turing Alan Turing.


Math/Maths 84: A π-curious Nerd

Math/Maths 84 is now available.

A conversation about mathematics between the UK and USA from This week Peter spoke with special guest Matt Parker about Festival Of The Spoken Nerd, Your Days Are Numbered, use of the word ‘geek’ and the Telegraph Numeracy campaign, and with Samuel, live from the streets of New York City, spoke about: superbowl math; The Crafoord Prize; John Leech MP says Alan Turing should be pardoned; singingbanana code challenge 2012; Non-transitive Grime Dice; Facebook-type Mathematics networking site; Torus Games & more.