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Magic Numbers: Hannah Fry’s Mysterious World of Maths on BBC Four

Hannah Fry's face in a kaleidoscope. Screengrab from the programme

The ubiquitous Fry is on our screens again, with a programme about Platonism, on BBC Four.

In Magic Numbers: Hannah Fry’s Mysterious World of Maths, “Dr Hannah Fry explores the mystery of maths. Is it invented like a language or is it discovered and part of the fabric of the universe?”

Episode 1 is on the iPlayer for about three more weeks, and episode 2 of 3 is on tonight at 21:00.

How to join in with our distributed Wiki edit day

Karen editing Wikipedia on her laptopYou may have seen our post last month about our remote Wiki Editing Day, this coming Saturday 12th May. We’re hoping to get a bunch of people in different locations editing pages on Wikiquote and other Wikimedia sites, to improve the visibility of female mathematicians. Here’s how you can get involved.

Are you more likely to be killed by a meteor or to win the lottery?

This tweet from the QI Elves popped up on my Twitter timeline:

In the account’s usual citationless factoid style, the Elves state that you’re more likely to be crushed by a meteor than to win the jackpot on the lottery.

The replies to this tweet were mainly along the lines of this one from my internet acquaintance Chris Mingay:

Yeah, why don’t we hear about people being squished by interplanetary rocks all the time? I’d tune in to that!

When numbers aren’t neutral: the hidden politics of budget calculators

The BBC News Budget 2017 calculator

The day after last week’s budget, I logged onto the BBC News website and clicked on their budget calculator to find out if I was a winner or a loser. The questions are pretty simple: first off, it asks how much you drink, smoke and drive, and then it asks how much you earn, plus a few bits and bobs to cover technicalities. Then, it spits out an answer: did Phil leave you feeling flush, was it more of a hammering at the hands of Hammond? I came away £8 a month better off…and significantly angrier than I expected.

New podcast takes a look at Maths at the Movies

Thomas Woolley has written in to tell us about the new podcast he’s launched with a couple of friends.

It’s called “Maths at: the Movies” (I suspect the colon is leaving them wiggle room to look at other media) and features co-hosts Thomas and Ben M. Parker chatting about films with “interested observer” and asymptotically anonymous woman “The Wonderful Liz”.

Laws of mathematics not as immutable as we thought, in Australia

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull said, as part of a speech proposing a law to force tech companies to give the government access to encrypted messages,

“The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”

The problem is that the end-to-end encryption schemes used by messaging apps make it practically impossible for the makers of the app to read messages, even if they really want to.

New Scientist writer Jacob Aron has seen the positive side of Turnbull’s comments:

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