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Sir Michael Atiyah has died

A collage entitled ‘People listening interestedly to Sir Michael Atiyah’; all photos © Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation Flemming / Kreutzer / Mueck

Over the weekend we heard the sad news that mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah has passed away on 11th January. One of the few mathematicians to have been awarded both a Fields medal and an Abel prize, Atiyah leaves behind an extensive mathematical legacy and will be missed by many.

A tribute to former President of the Royal Society Sir Michael Atiyah OM FRS (1929 – 2019), on the Royal Society website

Mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah dies aged 89, at BBC News

Michael Atiyah, Mathematician in Newton’s Footsteps, Dies at 89 at the New York Times

The Sound of Proof

The Sound of Proof screenshot

Marcus du Sautoy has tweeted about a mathematics and music project he’s involved in, called The Sound of Proof. Five classical proofs from Euclid’s Elements have been interpreted by composer Jamie Perera into musical pieces, and they’ve put together an app/game to see if you can work out which one corresponds to which.

They’ll be announcing the results at an event as part of Manchester Science Festival in October. The project is a collaboration with PRiSM, the research arm of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

The Sound of Proof, at RNCM PRiSM

2017 London Mathematical Society Popular Lectures now online

The London Mathematical Society Popular Lectures present exciting topics in mathematics and its applications to a wide audience. The 2017 Popular Lectures were Adventures in the 7th Dimension (Dr Jason Lotay, University College London) and The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Physics in Maths (Professor David Tong, University of Cambridge).

The Lectures are now available on the LMS’s YouTube channel, along with many of the previous years’ videos.

Progress on billiard table problem

Quanta Magazine reports progress on what its headline calls the “Infinite Pool-Table Problem”. The problem is explained in the article as follows:

Strike a billiard ball on a frictionless table with no pockets so that it never stops bouncing off the table walls. If you returned years later, what would you find? Would the ball have settled into some repeating orbit, like a planet circling the sun, or would it be continually tracing new paths in a ceaseless exploration of its felt-covered plane?

The article describes progress on the problem via study of ‘optimal’ billiard tables, “shapes whose particular angles make it possible to understand every billiard path that could occur within them”.

More information

New Shapes Solve Infinite Pool-Table Problem, Quanta Magazine.

via @ColintheMathmo on Twitter.

RSS Stat of the Year

The Royal Statistical Society is seeking nominations for the best statistic of 2017 – they’re looking for the “statistics that you think really capture the year so far”. The nomination form (docx) can be downloaded from their website, and their criteria include that it should be accurate, coherent and not misleading, and that it should have a public interest dimension (but it doesn’t need to have already had media attention).

The judging panel is chaired by Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and includes journalists, statisticians, economists and pollsters. The winning statistic will be unveiled in December.

More information

Stat of the Year, on the RSS Website

Landon Clay, founder of the Clay Mathematics Institute, has died

The Clay Mathematics Institute, home of the Clay Millennium Maths Prizes, has announced the sad death of its founder, Landon Clay. “Driven by a deep appreciation of the beauty and importance of mathematical ideas”, Clay donated generously to many organisations and projects, including the Institute which he founded in 1998.

Statement on the CMI website, including an addendum from Andrew Wiles

via @LondMathSoc

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