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Nominate a mathematician for the new £50 note

The Bank of England is asking for nominations for someone to picture on the new £50 note, and is encouraging it to be a scientist, engineer or mathematician.

Non-UK readers might like to know the £50 note is the largest denomination note, rarely seen by most people.

The Bank of England website says:

You can nominate as many people as you like. But anyone who appears on the new £50 note must:

  • have contributed to the field of science
  • be real – so no fictional characters please
  • not be alive – Her Majesty the Queen is the only exception
  • have shaped thought, innovation, leadership or values in the UK
  • inspire people, not divide them

You can suggest anyone who has contributed to the fields of pure or applied science. That could include: astronomy, biology, bio-technology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medical research, physics, technology and zoology.

More information

Think science for the new £50 note at the Bank of England’s website.

via Nira Chamberlain on Twitter.

Handing over @mathshistory

On 5th October 2010, eight years ago this week, I sent a tweet from a Twitter account I had registered on behalf of the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM). I was on BSHM Council at the time and, mindful of the Society’s charitable aim to develop awareness of the history of mathematics for the public benefit, I proposed starting a Twitter account. I thought a good way to generate a background level of activity for the account was to tweet a daily mathematician, taking my lead from the MacTutor website facility. So I set up @mathshistory and sent the first tweet, announcing the anniversary of the birth of Bernard Bolzano.

LaTeX for typesetting a multi-pile Nim game

I am preparing to teach our new final year module ‘Game Theory and Recreational Mathematics’. So I’m thinking about game typesetting in LaTeX (texlive-games is useful in this regard). I was looking for an easy way to display multi-pile Nim games. Usually, I find searching “latex thing” finds numerous options for typesetting “thing” in LaTeX, but here I was struggling.

Nim objects could be anything, of course, but conventionally sticks or stones are used. There are various types of dot in LaTeX that might look like stones, but somehow a line of dots didn’t seem satisfactory. There are various ways to draw a line (not least simply typing ‘|’), including some tally markers (e.g. in hhcount). My problem with these (call me picky) is that they are all identical lines, and a ‘heap’ of them just looks very organised. Really, I want a set of lines that looks like someone just threw them into heaps (though probably without crossings for the avoidance of ambiguity). So I wrote my own.

The Joy Of Winning documentary on BBC2

Hannah Fry presents a new one-off BBC4 documentary about game theory (reading the description, it sounds more classic than combinatorial), which the BBC4 website describes as a “gleefully nerdy adventure”. Should be fun!

This is tomorrow, 28th August 2018 at 9pm on BBC4 and on iPlayer after.

Update: iPlayer link to The Joy Of Winning.

International Congress of Mathematicians 2022 – St Petersburg

Saint Petersburg will host the next International Congress of Mathematicians, in 2022.

More informationSaint Petersburg beats Paris to win bid to host ICM 2022.

Caucher Birkar becomes first person ever to receive the Fields Medal twice

You may know from our recent foray into breaking news that the Fields Medal awarded to Caucher Birkar was stolen, minutes after it was awarded. It turns out the International Mathematical Committee (IMU) had a spare medal in Rio for display purposes, and they decided to award it to Birkar as a replacement.

Birkar is quoted as joking “I’m much more famous than I would be,” in reference to the increased media attention following the theft. Being the first person in the world to ever receive the Fields Medal twice certainly makes him a good answer to a trivia question at your next maths-themed pub quiz.

A post from the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) tries to play down the incident. ICM Chairman Marcelo Viana called it a “regretful incident with a happy ending” – slightly strange as the stolen medal hasn’t been found – and Birkar himself is quoted saying how lovely Rio is.

More information

“I’m more famous now than I would be”, jokes Birkar.