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More experimental evidence for the infinitude of the primes

In a classic example of the intersection between maths and news, there’s been a new Mersenne prime discovered! Mersenne primes are numbers of the form $2^p – 1$, where $p$ is a prime number. They’re highly valued as a source of large prime numbers, since testing the primality of a (suspected) prime of this form is much easier than for general prime numbers.

Carnival of Mathematics 95

The next issue of the Carnival of Mathematics, rounding up blog posts from the month of November, is now online at Maths Fact. The post is in Spanish, but can be translated into English using Google Translate.

The Carnival rounds up maths blog posts from all over the internet, including some from our own Aperiodical. For more information about the Carnival of Mathematics, click here.

Rock Paper Squiggles

We’ve seen non-transitive dice, and we’ve had cellular automata coming out of our ears (and proceeding deterministically). Now, this:

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A post by the CA’s creator describes in more detail what’s going on, although essentially the idea is that red, green and blue are able to destroy each other in a similar way to rock-paper-scissors, and the result of letting them play for a while is quite interesting. My favourite YouTube comment here has got to be the amazing and prescient “I’m high and what is this?”

BSA STEM Poster Competition – Mission to Mars

Following on from the Maths Careers website’s ‘Mathematics of Planet Earth’ poster competition, I’m going on the assumptions that 1. everyone loves poster competitions, and 2. if they’re related somehow to a particular planet, that’s even better.

The Manchester branch of the British Science Association is running a competition to design a poster around a theoretical upcoming manned mission to Mars, describing some science that solves a problem the Mars lander might face. I think we should encourage people to enter mathematics-based posters (firmly wedging the M in STEM).

How much equipment would they need to carry, and how much would it weigh, and how much fuel would they therefore need? How does the addition of human cargo affect the landing trajectory? And what can the crew possibly use to keep themselves occupied on the long journey except some maths puzzles you’ve invented?

The competition is aimed at school years 7-9 (ages 11-14), and while it’s being run by the Manchester branch, nothing on the website says you have to be based in Manchester to enter.

More information

Competition details

The Greater Manchester STEM Centre

CREST Awards

Puzzlebomb – February 2013

puzzlebomb_squarePuzzlebomb is a monthly puzzle compendium. Issue 14 of Puzzlebomb, for February 2013, can be found here:

Puzzlebomb – Issue 14 – February 2013

The solutions to Issue 14 can be found here:

Puzzlebomb – Issue 14 – February 2013 – Solutions

Previous issues of Puzzlebomb, and their solutions, can be found here.

Open Season – Singmaster’s Conjecture

Science and maths are all about finding things out. Mathematics in particular is about making statements, and then determining their truth (or falsity). Finding a proof, or disproof, of a mathematical theory can be as simple as finding a counterexample, or it can take hundreds of authors tens of thousands of pages.

In this short series of articles, I’m going to write about some mathematical questions we don’t know the answer to – which haven’t yet been proven or disproven. Hopefully you will find it interesting, and maybe someone will even be inspired to delve deeper and find the answers themselves.