A conversation about mathematics inspired by a space-filling curve. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.

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A conversation about mathematics inspired by a space-filling curve. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

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Here’s a round-up of mathematical news from the last couple of months.

The 2024 Abel Prize has been awarded to Michel Talagrand, “for his groundbreaking contributions to probability theory and functional analysis, with outstanding applications in mathematical physics and statistics.”

This year’s Turing Award has been given to Avi Wigderson, “for foundational contributions to the theory of computation, including reshaping our understanding of the role of randomness in computation, and for his decades of intellectual leadership in theoretical computer science.” Widgerson is a previous recipient of the Abel Prize.

Nature magazine reports the discovery of a natural metabolic enzyme capable of forming Sierpiński triangles. Fractals are everywhere!

Quine’s New Foundations for set theory, in which the axiom of choice is false, has been formally proved in Lean to be consistent (PDF).

Another unreasonably effective application of maths: knot theory can be used to reveal points where spacecraft can switch between intersecting orbits using minimal fuel.

And finally, there have unfortunately been two deaths in maths education. First, maths education stalwart and generally lovely person Sue de Pomerai has died. Sue worked at MEI, FMSP and AMSP, and made a huge contribution to maths promotion in the UK. Also Hugh Burkhardt, pioneering mathematics education researcher and former Director of the Shell Centre for Mathematical Education.

A conversation about mathematics including fractals inspired by a Romanesco Broccoli. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett, idea suggested by John Read (thanks John!).

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*This week, Katie and Paul are blogging from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a week-long maths conference where current young researchers in maths and computer science can meet and hear talks by top-level prize-winning researchers. For more information about the HLF, visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.*

The HLF, like all good conference events, has involved a large number of extravagant dinners, serving a variety of delicious food and drink to sustain the high levels of serious mathematical and research conversation. At last night’s Bavarian evening, I noticed a particularly mathematically interesting foodstuff was on the menu, and it’s inspired me enough to write about it.

If you enjoyed the magnificent ridiculousness of Matt Parker’s MegaMenger international fractal building project, but would prefer something slightly lower-dimensional, we’ve found the collaborative international fractal-building project for you!

A team led by José L. Rodríguez at the University of Almería, in Spain (who also built a Menger Sponge for MegaMenger) are attempting to build a giant Sierpiński carpet, using green and purple stickers, and an army of ~~unwitting~~ excited school children.