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Maths at the British Science Festival 2018

British Science Festival logoGuest author Kevin Houston has written a round-up of maths-related events at next week’s British Science Festival.

The British Science Festival is taking place in Hull and the Humber 11-14th September. There are lots of talks so I’ve put together a handy guide to talks with a mathematics-related theme.

It all starts for us in the pub…


Tue 11 Sep, 18:00 – 22:00; Suitable for: 18+
ATOM Brewing Co, ATOM Brewing Co
Featuring lightning talks on curious mathematical questions, and mind-boggling games, MathsJam is an opportunity for those who feel like dabbling in the infinite world of numbers.

MathsJam should be well-known but in case you don’t know there’s a monthly maths meet up in the pub in many cities throughout the world and an Annual Gathering in November.

Defining weight in a Parisian vault

Wed 12 Sep, 12:00 – 13:00
Teaching Room 1, Brynmor Jones Library

Since 1889, the kilogram has been defined by a platinum and iridium cylinder held in the depths of a Paris vault. Society is intrinsically dependent on the accuracy of this measurement. However, it has been losing weight and this year will be redefined using 21st century physics. Join Stuart Davidson as he discusses this historic moment.

Stuart Davidson is the Head of Mass metrology and responsible for maintaining the UK Mass scale at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

Measurement, whether it is money or mass, is crucial to the world we live in.

Do you look before you leap?

Scientific Section Presidential Address
Wed 12 Sep, 17:00 – 18:00
Lecture Theatre 2, Allam Medical Building

Whether riding a bike or sky diving, sometimes we gauge the activities in our life as more or less risky than they really are. Get to grips with your own personal relationship with risk alongside Jennifer Rogers, who shows how statistics can help you make better decisions.

Jen Rogers is Director of Statistical Consultancy Services at the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford.

Jen is a great speaker. (I’m slightly biased, I invited her to give the LMS Popular Lectures (along with the Aperiodical’s own Katie Steckles) so if you miss this you can catch them both in Birmingham in a few weeks.) Jen is the President of the Mathematical Section of the British Science Association this year.

Under and over the radar: a modern view

Thu 13 Sep, 14:00 – 15:00
The Cube, Plaza

The security of shipping has enormous implications for peaceful trade and combat situations when you want to remain inconspicuous. Colin Wright shares his latest mathematical research on the use of radar in marine safety.

Colin is a great speaker and phenomenally hard working in bringing maths to people (see his speaking engagement list!). This is going to be good!

In the driving seat: what’s the risk with epilepsy?

Award Lecture
Fri 14 Sep, 13:00 – 14:00
Auditorium, Middleton Hall

A ‘one-size fits all’ approach is often given to those living with epilepsy, but armed with statistics, Laura Bonnett sought to change this. By investigating the risk of epileptic seizures based on a person’s characteristics, she influenced the DVLA to reduce their epilepsy driving restrictions. Here, she explores ‘risk’ and shares her experience of the life-changing applications statistics have had in epilepsy research.

Laura Bonnett is the 2018 Rosalind Franklin Award Lecturer for physical sciences and mathematics.

Based at Liverpool University, Laura is a statistician interested in the applications of mathematical modelling to health and has been STEM Ambassador for many years. This talks looks really interesting, particularly if you like to see how mathematics and statistics can be used effectively in the real world.

What would you leave behind?

Fri 14 Sep, 17:00 – 18:00
Teaching Room 2, Brynmor Jones Library

How would you react in a city-wide disaster? Warmer and drier weather conditions mean there are an increasing number of wildfires and their proximity to cities result in thousands of communities being entrapped once they break out. Check your own reactions to an extreme event while Sandra Vaiciulyte sheds light on how to improve safety in such emergencies.

Another talk where numbers will play a part!

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