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Podcast: Episode 45 – Maths news with Sarah Shepherd

These are the show notes for episode 45 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 45 is the only number that is the sum of its digits multiplied by 5 More about 45 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.

In October the podcast turned 1 year old, since episode 1 was released on the 4th October 2008.

At the beginning of the month, Stephen Hawking gave up his title as Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge. Read “Hawking gives up academic title” from the BBC. At the end of the month, new Lucasian Professor Michael Green took up the post. Read “Stephen Hawking’s successor as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics: Michael Green” from the Times and “Stephen Hawking’s successor named” from the BBC. You can find an interview with “Michael Green: Master of the universe” from the Guardian.

The 125th anniversary of the agreement which saw the adoption of the Greenwich Meridian line. Read “At the centre of time” from the BBC.

The launch of maths educational games website Manga High, which received a lot of press attention with headlines like “Killer robots make maths homework less dull” from the Times. You can read a review as “Maths is the bedrock of the digital age” in the Guardian.

The release of graphic novel Logicomix. Read “Bertrand Russell’s mathematical quest adds up to unlikely graphic novel hit” from the Guardian.

Mathematicians at Dundee University are to develop a virtual model of cancer growth. Read “Mathematics to build cancer model” from the BBC.

Work carried out by mathematicians at Imperial College suggests low doses of radiation can cause cardiovascular disease. Read “Low dose radiation ‘harms heart’” from the BBC.

Government numeracy campaign targets shoppers. Read “Maths ‘failing bargain hunters’” from the BBC.

Mathematics A Level numbers have seen an increase in 2009. Read MEI report into reasons for the increase in uptake of A Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics in 2009. I also read “Science uptake figures are ‘science fiction’, says report” from the Telegraph.

Thousands of six and seven year olds in England who struggle with maths are to be offered one-to-one teaching in school after a successful pilot scheme. Read “One-to-one maths help for pupils” from the BBC.

A poster competition for undergraduate and PGCE mathematics students from the Further Mathematics Support Programme and Rolls-Royce is currently running. Read “Maths student poster competition just launched!” at Plus.

The IMA are supporting the undergraduate conference Tomorrow’s Mathematicians Today at the University of Greenwich on 6 February 2010. Students are invited to submit abstracts for presentations on topics in mathematics that excite them. The keynote speaker will be Professor Ian Stewart, who earlier this year was the first recipient of the Christopher Zeeman Medal, awarded jointly by the LMS and the IMA for his work on promoting mathematics. More details at the conference website.

Martin Gardner, who has written on recreational mathematics for many years including a popular column in Scientific American, celebrated his 95th birthday. Read “For Decades, Puzzling People With Mathematics” from the New York Times.

For more about iSquared Magazine visit the iSquared Magazine Website.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast: Episode 40 – Maths news with Sarah Shepherd

These are the show notes for episode 40 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 40 is, in English, the only number whose constituent letters appear in alphabetical order. More about 40 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.

British Science Festival
There was an active mathematics component at the recent British Science Festival. Information about the festival is available on the British Science Festival website. Read the BBC daily reporters log by Sue Nelson. Read “Simon Singh: My quest for a perfectly awful formula” in the Guardian.

Turing apology
Alan Turing has received a posthumous apology from the UK Government for the treatment he received for being gay. Read the apology on the Number 10 website, watch a BBC News video giving some background and listen to a short piece from the Today programme. You can read “How Alan Turing Finally Got a Posthumous Apology” by petition organiser John Graham-Cumming.
Guardian piece: “PM’s apology to codebreaker Alan Turing: we were inhumane“. BBC: “PM apology after Turing petition“. Alan Turing’s life and work was covered by Noel-Ann Bradshaw in podcast 21.

First one trillion cases of congruent number search
Mathematicians have resolved the first one trillion cases of an ancient mathematics problem using “a clever technique for multiplying large numbers”. Read “Mathematicians Solve ‘Trillion Triangle’ Problem” at Science Daily.

Andy Burnham and exponential growth
UK Health Minister has been “taken to task” on the rules of exponential growth by a US blogger over swine flu projections. Read “Uncomfortable sums? Andy Burnham taken to task over his swine flu maths” at the Times Online and “UK Health Minister: exponentially dumb” at the Effect Measure blog.

Stephen Hawking awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
President Obama has presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Stephen Hawking for “overcoming disability to push the boundaries of science”. Read “Obama presents presidential medal of freedom to 16 recipients” from the Guardian.

Brain chaos
Researchers believe the brain operates in a state of “self-organised criticality”, on the boundary between stable and chaotic behaviour – and this is a good thing. Read “Disorderly genius: How chaos drives the brain” in New Scientist.

MTi journal launched by ATM at MEI conference
The Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) has launched Mathematics Teaching interactive (MTi), an online journal to accompany their print journal Mathematics Teaching, at the Mathematics in Education and Industry conference.

“Odd day” and other ‘significant’ dates
I highlighted the dates 5/7/9, 9/9/9, 20/09/2009 and 7/8/9 with all the fun to be had at 12:34:56 7/8/9 and so on. Read about Odd Day on the Odd Day website.

Zombies attack!
A mathematical exercise has been carried out by researchers in Canada considering the question “If there was to be a battle between zombies and the living, who would win?” Read “Science ponders ‘zombie attack‘” from the BBC.

Google’s Pagerank used to study eco-system collapse
Researchers believe a modified version of Google’s Pagerank algorithm could be “a simple way of working out which extinctions would lead to ecosystem collapse”. Read “Google trick tracks extinctions” from the BBC.

A-Level entries in Mathematics and Further Mathematics increase
The number of A and A/S level Mathematics and Further Mathematics students has shown a dramatic increase this year. Read the LMS/IMA press release “Maths A-level numbers bounce back“.

Cambridge entrance exam
The head of admissions at the University of Cambridge “suggested that it was difficult to pick out the most able sixth-formers based on A-levels alone” after one third of A grade mathematics students failed the entrance exam. Read “A-levels: Row over maths standards” from the Telegraph.

Maths standards 30 years ago
A study has suggested pupils are no better at maths now than in the 1970s, despite a rise in exam grades. Read “Maths ‘no better than in 1970s’” from the BBC. Also read a letter to the Guardian on this subject from Anne Watson, Professor of mathematics education, University of Oxford.

Maths ‘costliest degree’
According to an NUS survey, maths and computer science are the most expensive degrees in terms of hidden costs but we aren’t convinced the numbers add up. Read “Maths and computer science are costliest degrees“.

Boys outperform girls in GCSEs
Boys outperform girls in GCSE maths for the first time in 12 years and the suggestion is the scrapping of coursework is the cause. Read “GCSE results: Boys bag top grades in maths” from the Guardian.

Research show correlation between gender attitudes and performance
New research shows a correlation between “the extent to which a country believed that girls performed poorly, and actual results”. Read “Girls, maths, science and stereotypes” from the Telegraph.

iSquared
The latest issue of iSquared Magazine is a special issue “Women in Maths”. Find out more at www.isquaredmagazine.co.uk.

Chartered Mathematics Teacher
On behalf of the Chartered Mathematics Teacher Registration Authority, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications is delighted to announce that the Chartered Mathematics Teacher (CMathTeach) designation is now available. Interested? Visit the CMathTeach web pages for more information on the designation, the equivalence routes, application forms and details on how to apply, ima.org.uk/cmathteach.

IMA Student Prizes
I am aware of two local newspaper reports of students winning IMA graduate Prizes: “It all adds up as mum wins top maths honour” from the South Wales Echo and “Crewe student wins top award from the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications” from the Crewe Chronicle. You can read a blog post I wrote about Prizes “IMA Prize Giving at King’s“.

David Crighton Medal 2009
The Councils of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and of the London Mathematical Society have awarded the 2009 David Crighton Medal for services to mathematics and to the mathematical community to Professor Keith Moffatt, F.R.S., Emeritus Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge, in recognition of his contributions to fluid dynamics and mathematical modelling and for his leadership in many positions in UK and international mathematical organisations. Read more: “David Crighton Medal“.

Whither Mathematics?
The current issue of Mathematics Today is a special issue on the state of mathematics in the UK. Find out more about Mathematics Today on the IMA website.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast: Episode 36 – Maths news with Sarah Shepherd

These are the show notes for episode 36 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 36 is the smallest number (besides 1) which is both square and triangular. More about 36 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.

Evolution of numeracy
Report on various studies into the ability of animals to do basic arithmetic. Read “Animals that count: How numeracy evolved” in New Scientist.

Bill Lionheart’s electric fish
Professor Bill Lionheart at University of Manchester is interested how the Black Ghost Knife Fish generates electric fields to help his work in Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT). Read “Fish + electricity = new treatment” at BBC Manchester.

Jamitons
A new model has been developed to try to explain ‘phantom’ traffic jams. Read “Mathematicians take aim at ‘phantom’ traffic jams” at MIT news.

Deal or No Deal
Article looks the behaviour of contestants in the game show Deal or No Deal, whether they are guided by mathematics or superstition, following a feature on the BBC’s More or Less radio programme. Read “The odds of Deal or No Deal” from the BBC.

Dara O’Briain
Interview with Dara O’Briain covers his background in mathematical physics and dislike of “pseudoscience”. Also on what brought him to stand up comedy. Read “Graduate Special: Mock the geek” in New Scientist.

Gender
The piece on male under-performance and the link to GCSE is “GCSEs blamed for boys not going to university” in the Guardian. The UK gender differences in science are compared with other countries in “Science gender gap ‘widest in UK’” from the BBC. The discussion of the reason for gender bias in the US is covered in “The Math Gender Gap Explained” in Newsweek and is covered in the blog post “Gender gap in maths driven by social factors, not biological differences” at the Not Exactly Rocket Science blog.

Mathematicians in Sport
I mentioned Leeds Rugby player Ryan Hall, Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy, cricketer Claire Taylor and Commonwealth light-heavyweight boxer Nathan Cleverly, all sports people in the news with a mathematics background.

A Level Sat Nav
A report by think-tank Reform says teenagers are being ‘spoon-fed’ A-Levels, especially in maths. Read “Think-tank Reform says pupils are ‘spoon-fed’ with sat-nav A levels” in the Times.

Marcus du Sautoy
Marcus du Sautoy’s Sexy Maths column has recent features on swine flu and game theory. Marcus’ piece on sparking off an interest in maths, “The secret life of numbers“, in the Guardian and its accompanying mathematical architecture tour with 11 images of buildings of mathematical interest.

Royal Society Summer Science – How do shapes fill space?
The 2009 Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society includes an exhibit How do shapes fill space? by a team led by mathematician Edmund Harriss, which looks at how space can be filled with shapes and what this can tell about the natural world and medieval art. Watch a video on the exhibition in a previous blog post.

iSquared
Summer issue of iSquared features an inteview with crowd modeller Keith Still plus articles on Archimedes, the financial crisis and the mathematical modelling of water pollution. For more visit the iSquared Magazine Website.

Plus
The winners of the Plus New Writers Award 2009 have been announced. You can read the winning entries (2 in each of three categories – school, university and general public) along with other articles in the latest issue of Plus.

I mentioned a piece on the IMA RUMS blog from Heriot-Watt about “Setting up a Maths Society“.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast: Episode 32 – Maths news with Sarah Shepherd

These are the show notes for episode 32 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 32 is the number of panels in the spherical polyhedron corresponding to the Archimedean solid the truncated icosahedron which is the most popular design of a modern football. More about the truncated icosahedron from Wolfram Mathworld. More about 32 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.

May saw the general release of Wolfram|Alpha, a computational knowledge engine. For a general overview read “Wolfram ‘search engine’ goes live” from the BBC or a little more detail from “Ask Alpha: Quizzing the world’s first answer engine” from New Scientist or “Where does Wolfram Alpha get its information?” from The Guardian. You can read the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones investigation “Does Wolfram work?” Read about the first week of operation on Stephen Wolfram’s blog post “The First Week of Wolfram|Alpha: Thank You!”. You can read my blog post when I was playing around with Wolfram|Alpha.

A mobile phone comparison site powered by statistical analysis has become the first of its kind to be accredited by Ofcom, the communications regulator. You can read about this in “Academics tot up costs of mobiles” from the BBC or “BillMonitor comparison site rings Ofcom’s bell” from the Guardian.

The Guardian talks to Paul Wilmott, a financial mathematician who claims to have seen the credit crunch coming and has fairly strong views on who is to blame. Read “Number cruncher who foresaw financial crash.”

The inaugural Christopher Zeeman medal, jointly awarded by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the London Mathematical Society and named in honour of Sir Christopher Zeeman, is to be awared to Professor Ian Stewart FRS. Read “It all adds up to connecting with people about numbers” from Times Higher Education.

On 15 May 2009, the Royal Society elected 44 new Fellows and 8 Foreign Members. I spotted 3 in maths – Professor Jonathan Peter Keating FRS, Professor Burt James Totaro FRS, Professor Yakov Sinai ForMemRS – plus 3 other using maths – Professor (John) Michael Batty CBE FBA FRS, Professor (Oscar) Peter Buneman FRS, Professor Angela McLean FRS. You can read profiles of all new Fellows and Foreign Members on the Royal Society website.

On six degrees of seperation, following the BBC programme, you can read “How Kevin Bacon sparked a new branch of science” from the BBC. You can read a general overview of the mathematical topic and its links to popular culture from Wikipedia. The BBC experiment sending packages to Boston is based on a study from the 1960s; you can read more about this and a later attempt to recreate this via email at “E-mail Study Corroborates Six Degrees of Separation” in Scientific American. There is a piece covering the small world phenomenon in Plus “Rap: rivalry and chivalry

You can read the article from the New Scientist which covers quantum computing and game theory, “Quantum poker: Are the chips down or not?

On films, Sarah mentions “Fermat’s Room” and I talk about “Agora“. You can read about the impact of the latter at Cannes in “Cannes film festival falls in love with maths” from the Guardian.

On improved weather forecasting, you can read “Met Office unveils supercomputer” from the BBC.

I mentioned Marcus du Sautoy’s Sexy Maths column in the Times. Recent editions at the time of recording were “A game of 12 pentagons: Why a football match is actually geometry in motion” and “In search of the poetry of Muslim symmetry.”

You can find out more about iSquared Magazine on the iSquared website.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast: Episode 28 – Maths news with Sarah Shepherd

These are the show notes for episode 28 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 28 is the number of dominoes in a standard dominoes set. More about 28 from NumberADay.

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.

‘Maths’ to crack climate change,” an article on the BBC News website about the Numerical Algorithms and Intelligent Software (NAIS) team, a group of Scottish scientists attempting to tackle some of the numerical challenges presented by modern science.

Article in the Guardian, “Go figure … why mathematicians rule the internet,” on algorithms, covering supermarket loyalty cards, shelf stacking, special offers and stock control, traffic lights, the price of low cost flights, air traffic control, Amazon recommendations, Google search results, weather forecasts and radio station playlists.

Piece in the Oxford Mail highlighting the importance of mathematics in fire fighting. Read “Flaming good way to teach maths.”

Piece in the Guardian, “Newly hatched chicks pass maths test,” on basic mathematical skills in newly hatched chicks.

Scientists reveal how eating chocolate can help improve your maths,” a piece in the Telegraph which reports on a study on the effects of flavanols (found in cocoa) on mathematical ability.

Could quantum mathematics shake up Google?“, a piece from the New Scientist which discusses the use of random matrix theory to identify salient words in documents and its potential use in search engine results.

Maths teachers ‘taught to teach’” from the BBC News website reports on a booklet containing advice on teaching mathematics which are being sent to maths teachers in England and some reaction to the booklet.

The report of the suggestion of a government advisory committee that suggests national SATS tests should be phased out. Read “Testing of 11-year-olds should be phased out, advisers tell government” from the Guardian.

Puzzling behaviour: Maths professor finds the formula that will solve ANY Sudoku” from the Daily Mail reports on an article by James Crook, “A Pencil-and-Paper Algorithm for Solving Sudoku Puzzles.”

The story “Salmond stumped by a mother’s maths question” is an interesting one. Since we recorded, there has been an apology from the BBC journalist involved, Brian Davies, in a blog post “To infinity and beyond” where he offers “to one and all, 3.14159265 apologies”. The original story is gone from the Scotsman website at the time of writing these notes, replaced with the seemingly technical error, “The article has been unable to display.” At the time of writing, Google still has a cache of the original story “Salmond stumped by a mother’s maths question – Google Cache“. I have not been able to find any reference to it, or its deletion, on the Scotsman website, apart from in deleted user contributed comments (view Google cache version). Minitrue at work.

The 14th of March was Pi Day. You can read the text of the US Government Bill which officially recognises Pi Day on The Library of Congress THOMAS website by searching for Bill Number “H.RES.224” or for the text “Pi Day”.

The 24th March 2009 was Ada Lovelace Day, in recognition of women in technology. The BBC have a good roundup of what took place.

The International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) in Edinburgh held a maths film festival – watching Hollywood films The Oxford Murders, 21 and N Is A Number, a documentary about Paul Erdös. This was reported in The Scotsman as “Lights, camera, action – maths and the movies adds up to a winning formula“.

I recommended Marcus du Sautoy’s column Sexy Maths in the Times, the latest I had seen was “Sexy maths: the Fibonacci sequence’s prime rate.”

I also recommended the work of David Spiegelhalter through the Understanding Uncertainty website and a piece in Plus, “Understanding uncertainty: 2845 ways of spinning risk.”

I mentioned the Independant guide on Maths at university in which Noel-Ann Bradshaw and I feature. I mentioned Neil Goldwasser, who featured on Episode 7 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast, is now featured on the Maths Careers website.

You can find out about IMA membership grades on the Membership section of the IMA website.

I also mentioned the error I made in episode 9 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast, in which I claim 9 is prime.

You can find out more about iSquared Magazine on the iSquared website.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

Podcast: Episode 27 – Oliver Jensen, British Applied Mathematics Colloquium 2009

These are the show notes for episode 27 of the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast. 27 is the first composite number not divisible by any of its digits. More about 27 from Number Gossip.

In April was the British Applied Mathematics Colloquium (BAMC) 2009, the premier annual national meeting of applied mathematics in the UK, at the School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham. Immediately following this, I sat down with Professor Oliver Jensen, Co-Chair of the BAMC for a retrospective on the conference and what work is current in applied mathematics.

Oliver spoke about the Meet the Mathematicians outreach day connected to the conference and the following talks. All the talks at Meet the Mathematicians were videoed and will appear in time on the website at http://www.meetmaths.org/.

Oliver also spoke briefly about each of the plenary lectures at the BAMC. Click on the speakers name to find out more about their work.

Oliver also mentioned the mini-symposia:

  1. Quantum Chaos & Disordered Systems
  2. Scientific Computation
  3. Cells and Networks
  4. Stochastic Systems and Uncertainty
  5. Approaches to Nanofluidics
  6. Nonlinear Optics and Optical Coherent Structures.
  7. Delay and Difference Equations
  8. Regenerative Medicine
  9. Mathematics Education
  10. Solid Mechanics

If you can, please help to promote the podcast. You can help promote the podcast by pointing people to http://www.travelsinamathematicalworld.co.uk/. There is a poster/flyer to advertise the podcast: poster in A4 format; poster in A5 format.

You can find out more about my work with the IMA by following me on Twitter, reading this blog and visiting http://www.ima.org.uk/student/. Join the Facebook page.

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