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Aperiodical News Roundup – August 2022

Not much going on in the world of maths this month (or, we’re on holiday so we haven’t been paying attention), but here’s a round-up of a few stories we saw this month.

The next Black Heroes of Mathematics Conference is scheduled for the 4th and 5th October, taking place online and featuring speakers including statistician Sophie Dabo-Niang (University of Lille), actuarial/finance lecturer Tolulope Fadina (University of Essex), Tosin Babasola (University of Bath), mathematician and former NFL player John Urschel (Harvard), Mathematically Uncensored podcast host Aris Winger (Georgia Gwinnett College), engineer Ejay Nsugbe (Nsugbe Research Labs), Nandi Leslie (Raytheon Technologies) and Franck Kalala Mutombo (University of Lubumbashi). The event is a joint initiative between The British Society for the History of Mathematicsthe International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applicationsthe Isaac Newton Institutethe London Mathematical Society, and the Mathematical Association.

Photo: HLFF

Later this month the 9th Heidelberg Laureate Forum will take place in Germany, bringing together laureates of the Abel Prize, Fields Medal and other prestigious maths and computer science awards. The event also invites hundreds of promising PhD students in maths and computer science to network and watch lectures by the laureates. Much of the conference will be livestreamed online, and there’ll be Twitter and blog coverage of the event (including some posts by me, and others by Chalkdust team member/friend of the site Sophie Maclean).

Aperiodic tilings exhibition

The Open University has put together a mathematical art exhibition and workshop inspired by aperiodic tilings, in honour of Uwe Grimm, and it’s now possible to view the Aperiodic tilings exhibition online, including stills of the pieces and a video walk around the exhibition.

And finally: our own Peter has noticed an interesting trend of positive coverage of maths in the media, and has collected some examples in this Twitter thread, including a Guardian piece about someone who discovered a love of maths later in life having struggled at school, a BBC Radio 4 episode of biography show ‘Great Lives’ on Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw. Add your own examples to the thread!

Maths in the Spiderman: No Way Home Credits

Peter suggested it, so Katie had to do it: here’s a video of Katie and fellow maths/Marvel fan Jimi watching through the end credits to Spiderman: No Way Home (warning: contains spoilers for the film) and talking about the mathematical things found therein.

Aperiodical News Roundup – July 2022

Here’s a roundup of some mathematical news we didn’t yet report from the last month.

The makers of documentary film ‘Olga Ladyzhenskaya’, detailing the life of the Russian mathematician, have released a five-minute trailer giving a flavour of the film. (via ICM Intelligencer)

From the Olga Ladyzhenskaya trailer

Research

According to a new ArXiV paper, the triple bubble conjecture (a result about the shapes taken by surfaces that are attempting to enclose a volume, or in this case three volumes, with minimal surface area) has been solved. (via Ian Agol)

The Lean community, who use and blog about the Lean proof assistant, have announced completion of the liquid tensor experiment – proving the main theorem of liquid vector spaces (me neither) and thereby formalising a big serious proof using the system. (via David Eppstein)

In computer science, a new ArXiV paper takes us a step closer to automating quantitative reasoning – Minerva, a large language model pre-trained on general natural language data and technical content, has correctly solved some college-level questions that “require quantitative reasoning”.

Awards

Photograph of the four 2022 Fields Medalists sitting in a row at the award ceremony
2022 Fields Medalists (L-R: Maryna Viazovska, James Maynard, June Huh, and Hugo Duminil-Copin) Photo: HLFF

A big month for prizes, with the announcement of the 2022 Fields medals, awarded to Hugo Duminil-Copin, June Huh, James Maynard and Maryna Viazovska, as well as the 2022 Christopher Zeeman medal, which has been awarded to Simon Singh.

Carnival of Mathematics 207

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of July and hosted by Sam, is now online at SamHartburn.co.uk.

Screenshot of Carnival 207

The Carnival rounds up maths blog posts from all over the internet, including some from our own Aperiodical. See our Carnival of Mathematics page for more information.

Mathematical Activities for the Summer Holidays

In the UK, schools have now broken up for the summer, or are about to, meaning parents face a long six-to-eight weeks of trying to find interesting things for the kids to do. If you or someone you know is in this situation, and the kid(s) in question would like to do some mathematics, we’ve got you covered.

Online resources for primary (ages 5-11)

Always a good shout for mathematical things to do, the wonderful NRICH, who are based at the University of Cambridge, are posting interactive mathematical challenges every weekday from now until 2nd September.

Family maths charity Maths on Toast are posting weekly STEAM activities including craft, construction, puzzles, baking and games, under the banner of Summer Fun with Little Robot. They’re also running a ‘Join-in Project’ themed around Truchet tilings, called Infinity Tiles – participants can send in their own ideas to be featured in an online gallery.

While there aren’t specific summer-themed activities, there are plenty of great resources and thoughts about ways to engage with young mathematicians on the Talking Math With Your Kids website.

The good old BBC Bitesize website has a selection of good interactive games, including several maths-themed ones (now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be playing Karate Cats).

If you’re looking for some summer reading material, our list of recommended maths books for primary children has some good suggestions.

Online resources for Secondary (ages 11-18)

NRICH are also posting daily interactive mathematical challenges for secondary students until 2nd September, including games, puzzles and problems, and the AIMS (African Institute for Mathematical Sciences) posts daily maths problems on its Facebook page.

While they don’t have anything specific for the summer, we can always recommend Mathgon’s online courses and activities, including the incredibly versatile PolyPad, and plenty of puzzles and games.

Just some of the things you can play with in PolyPad

There’s also a great range of mathematical YouTube videos and books to while away the summer days – we’ve got a list of books a 14-year-old might enjoy (now slightly out-of-date), and can highly recommend Ben Orlin’s book of mathematical games which we recently reviewed and chatted to him on a podcast about. For videos, Numberphile is always a good place to look for new content, as well as the TEDEd maths channel, VSauce and Minute Physics, and the inimitable Vi Hart. And if you’re more audio-only, our collection of maths podcasts might have something to suit.

Events and places to visit

If you can get to Leeds, we can highly recommend the wonderful maths discovery centre at MathsCity – with tickets at £6.50 for adults / £4.50 for children aged 3-16 / £18 family ticket, and within easy reach of Leeds train station, it’s a great day out and you can spend hours playing with the interactive exhibits and puzzles. They’ve just launched a great new codebreaking exhibit for this summer, with over 20 interactive coding activities and crafts. There’ll also be bubble-related activities on 6th August, and they’ll be represented at Leeds’ Breeze in the Park events on 17th & 18th August.

In the north-east, numeracy initiative Multiply is running three Multiply Roadshow events in Gateshead. The events will feature much-loved celebrities including Johnny Ball, Scarlett Moffatt and Coronation Street’s Ryan Thomas, alongside family games, crafts, and activities, as well as information about short fully funded maths courses from Gateshead Learning and Skills. (Sadly the Johnny Ball event is happening as we write, but the others are 8th & 15th August).

The Royal Institution in London has a large programme of summer holiday workshops running from 25 July to 26 August, which cost £35 half-day / £50 full day, with discounts available for Ri Young Members. Bursaries to support attendance are available via the Potential Trust (details on the individual session pages under ‘About Our Workshops’).

Bletchley Park remains the classic mathematical historical day out: tickets are £24.50 for adults, £16.00 for 12-17 year olds and it’s free for under-12s – plus the ticket is an annual pass, so you can visit as many times as you want in a year. Over the summer they have a Summer Fun programme including Puzzles and Pastimes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, family guided tours on Fridays, a summer concert series and Top Secret Mission Packs available on entry for £1. They also currently have a temporary exhibition on the Art of Data.

Honourable mention for site-friend Kyle Evans who’s performing his family (7+) maths show Return of the Math(s) (left) at the Edinburgh Fringe from 6-15 August – a ‘fast-paced hour of inclusive maths-based family fun [… including] madcap demos, loads of crowd participation and mind-melting mathematics.’

Mathematical Objects: Fingers with Ben Orlin

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by some fingers. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett, with special guest Ben Orlin. Ben’s new book is Math Games with Bad Drawings.

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