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Not mentioned on The Aperiodical this week

My name is Aperiodical, king of kings;
Look on my news queue, ye Mighty, and despair!

Among other lessons not heeded by your fearless editorial trio this week are those of queueing theory. Our news queue has got a bit out of hand, so it’s time to take drastic action. Here’s what we were going to cover this week, but didn’t get round to. Some of the stories have been stewing in the queue for quite a while, so hold your nose.


Literally over a month ago, Dave Gale asked us to rate some jokes so his students would have some data to do statistics on. Literally just under a month ago, he posted the results on his blog.


The IMA has asked for submissions of papers to be considered for the Lighthill-Thwaites Prize

The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) in cooperation with the Institute’s Journal of Applied Mathematics and the British Applied Mathematics Colloquium (BAMC) will award the IMA Lighthill-Thwaites Prize in applied mathematics in 2013. The award will be based on a submitted piece of work that describes an aspect of the candidate’s original research and is suitable for presentation at the BAMC. Whether or not the work has been published, or submitted for publication, is irrelevant but no person may submit more than one paper. Finalists will be invited to submit an article for publication in the IMA Journal of Applied Mathematics, which would normally be related in some way to the paper submitted for the prize. The prize winner will receive a certificate and £1000 co-funded jointly by Sir Bryan Thwaites and the IMA.

Submissions will be accepted from any candidates who, on the deadline submission date, have spent no more than five years in further study or full time equivalent work since completing their undergraduate studies. Applications are particularly welcome from those who are currently studying for or have recently completed a PhD. The prize is also open to undergraduate-level students. The recipient can be of any nationality.

Entries should be received by 4th January 2013 electronically as a pdf file. Each candidate should include a brief CV and indicate that she/he would be available to present her/his paper at BAMC 2013, which will be held at Leeds University, UK, in April 2013. Any joint paper must be accompanied by a statement from the co-authors agreeing to the submission and detailing the contributions of each author to the paper.

More info at the IMA’s Lighthill-Thwaites prize page.

The IMA’s going to be 50 in 2014, so they’re going to publish a book containing 50 short articles. They’re looking for pieces on the following subjects:

  • best maths of the last 50 years: including strange or interesting biography;
  • popular maths: sport, arts (prose, poetry and visual media), social science;
  • maths at work: medicine, finance, the environment, government;
  • quirky maths, humour, spoof and magic;
  • philosophy/psychology of maths, maths in education.

The author of the best one will receive an iPad, which is nice. Info on what to do if you’ve got an article in you and for some mad reason don’t want to give it to us at the IMA@50 page.

Seeking not to be forgotten in the prize-giving craze, the MEI is asking for submissions for its Tarquin MEI Prize for post-16 school, college and FE college students.


An Enigma machine was sold for £82,500 at auction.

The EPSRC has commissioned and received a report from Deloitte “to quantify the economic value of mathematics research in terms of the employment it supports and gross added value of mathematics to the UK economy”.

The report notes the excellence of the UK mathematics research base and estimates the contribution of maths to the UK economy in 2010 to be 2.8 million in employment terms (around 10 per cent of all jobs in the UK) and £208 billion in terms of GVA (around 16 per cent of total UK GVA). It also illustrates the contribution that mathematics makes to the development of a skilled workforce, the production of high-end, high-value products and the development of quality processes.


Dr Yong Mao, of The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie fame, reckons that the wholly holey fractal structures so beloved of 3D printing enthusiasts might actually have a useful engineering application.

Jon Borresen and Stephen Lynch of Manchester Met have written about (and patented) a half-adder constructed from threshold oscillators, which act a bit like neurones. They reckon this technology will allow computers to be made which use vastly less power than current transistor-based ones; Jon was interviewed on this week’s BBC Material World about the research.


The inventor of the barcode N. Joseph Woodland died this week, aged 91. Coding theory lecturers throughout the world owe him a debt of gratitude.

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