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Here are a few of the stories that we didn’t get round to covering in depth this month.
Turing’s Sunflowers Project – results
Manchester Science Festival’s mass-participation maths/gardening project, Turing’s Sunflowers, ran in 2012 and invited members of the public to grow their own sunflowers, and then photograph or bring in the seed heads so a group of mathematicians could study them. The aim was to determine whether Fibonacci numbers occur in the seed spirals – this has previously been observed, but no large-scale study like this has ever been undertaken. This carries on the work Alan Turing did before he died.
The results of the research are now published – a paper has been published in the Royal Society’s Open Science journal, and the findings indicate that while Fibonacci numbers do often occur, other types of numbers also crop up, including Lucas numbers and other similarly defined number sequences.
It’s not only actors who get shiny awards around this time of year – mathematicians are in on it too!
There have been a few medals, gongs and otherwise prizes awarded to some terrifically clever people in the past month or so, so I thought I’d do a round-up of the ones I’m aware of.
As usual in the summer, we’ve all been off doing our own things and consequently neglecting the news queue. Time to break out our tried-and-tested solution: a combo-post summarising everything we failed to cover in depth, before it goes completely out of date.
The Royal Society has Opinions about Education
The Royal Society has released a report outlining their idea of what science and maths education should look like in the future. It’s over a hundred pages long, but they’ve made a nice website to go along with it, with pages summarising their recommendations for things like “stability for curricula” and the teaching profession.
More information: The Royal Society’s vision for science and mathematics education
Cédric Villani is setting up a Maths Museum in Paris
The 2010 Fields Medal winner Cédric Villani announced at Copenhagen’s Euroscience Open Forum last month that there will be a museum dedicated to mathematics, based at the Institut Henri Poincaré, where he is the director. It’s expected to open in 2018.
Source: Cédric Villani annonce la création d’un musée des mathématiques à Paris, in Sciences et Avenir (in French)
Science Magazine establishes a Statistical Board of Reviewing Editors
In response to recent increases in flawed quantitative analysis and statistical bias in papers, Science has announced its intention to establish a Statistical Board of Reviewing Editors to provide better oversight on data interpretation. Recognising that a technical reviewer may not also be fluent in data analysis, the panel will consist of experts in stats and data analysis, and will be sent papers identified by their regular Board of Reviewing Editors (BoRE) as being in need of further scrutiny. Hooray for maths!
Science Magazine raises its statistical bar. Will we? at Chris Blattman’s blog
Raising the Bar, at Science (free registration required to view, because of Science reasons)
Science joins push to screen statistics in papers in the Nature blog
ASA launches ‘This is Statistics’
The American Statistical Association, in a push to provide a new perspective on a subject often misunderstood and considered to be boring, has launched This is Statistics, a new website full of videos, applets and articles outlining how useful and interesting stats can be. It’s aimed at students, parents and educators and includes quizes and case studies of how stats has helped science change lives.
Website: This is Statistics
via Tim Harford on Twitter
An article on the BBC website says that a report by SCORE has found that A-level science exams do not contain enough maths questions to prepare students to progress to science degrees or related jobs.
The Telegraph numeracy campaign has a review of Intersections, an exhibition available at The Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum and at the Royal Society from 5 April to 20 June 2012, which “throws new light on the often overlooked common ground of art and maths”.
The article writes about Henry Moore, who drew inspiration from the Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum while a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1920s.
What particularly fired Moore’s artistic imagination in this gallery was the collection of 19th-century “ruled surface models” – a rather opaque name for what are arrangements of strings, pulled taut between either wood or metal plates, which can then be adjusted to create complex three-dimensional shapes with exotic names like conoid, ellipsoid and cylindroid. They were built – primarily in a workshop in Munich – in an effort to make real for students of pure mathematics, as well as trainee engineers and architects, geometric forms that could otherwise only be expressed in abstract equations.
The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education have a call for views on post-16 education. This says:
In a speech at the Royal Society in July 2011, the Secretary of State Michael Gove stated his wish that within ten years, all young people would be studying some form of mathematics post-16. ACME is seeking views on how we can make this a reality.
A paper giving some background information & details of how to submit your views are available via the website.
ACME: Bridging the Mathematics Gap : Have Your Say.