## You're reading: Posts Tagged: pi

### Double Maths First Thing: Issue 0

Double Maths First Thing is Colin’s weekly news round-up. Or round-down, if the fractional part is smaller than a half. You can sign up to receive it in your inbox on a Wednesday morning here.

Hello! My name is Colin and I am a mathematician. Welcome to issue 0 of Double Maths First Thing, in which I highlight some of the mathematical things that have caught my eye this week.

## Let’s talk about $$\pi$$ and powers

First up, a nod to physicists Arnab Priya Saha and Aninda Sinha for doing something with no real application: they “accidentally discovered a new formula for pi”. There’s a bit about it in Scientific American, a Numberphile video, and a paper in Physical Review Letters (open access). I’ve not worked through it in detail, but it’s got a Pochhammer symbol in it, so it must be good.

I promise this isn’t always going to be about pi, but I also stumbled on a proof that pi is irrational — again, I’ve not worked through the details, but it looks like it would be accessible to a good A-level class with a bit of hand-holding.

Via reddit, a surprisingly tricky problem with a lovely twist in the tail: show that $$3^k + 5^k = n^3$$ has no solutions for $$k > 1$$. (There’s a hint and a spoiler over on mathstodon.)

## Somewhere to visit: W5, Belfast

I’ve recently been on holiday in Northern Ireland. We visited W5 in Belfast, which is a pretty cool science museum — lots of hands-on stuff, including a build-your-own Scalextric-style car, bottle rockets and a green-screen bit where you can present the news about the alien invasion. On the minus side… there are lots of missed opportunities for highlighting the maths that underpins it all. Still, it’s a fun half-day if you’re all Titanic-ed out.

## Maths in the news

In the proper news, the Guardian had a long read about Field’s Medallist Alexander Grothendieck; although it too is a bit maths-light, it’s understandable given quite how heavy Grothendieck’s maths is. Katie Steckles also pointed me at the devastating news that UK railcard discounts are dropping from 34% to 33.4%, which strikes me as the sort of thing that probably costs more to implement than it could possibly save the train operators.

## Upcoming maths

If you’re in the market for more maths, I can heartily recommend both the Finite Group, whose next livestream is on Friday September 13th, and Big MathsJam, which is a gathering of amazing geeks the first weekend of November. Early-bird tickets are (just about) still available; I have mine already. There’s also a day of recreational maths lectures in memory of David Singmaster on Saturday September 21st in London or online, and a New Scientist event about how maths explains the world the following Saturday, also in London.

That’s all for this week! If there’s something I should know about, you can find me on Mathstodon as @icecolbeveridge, or at my personal website.

Until next time,

C

### Aperiodical News Roundup – June/July 2024

Here’s a round-up of some news we didn’t cover on the Aperiodical in the last couple of months.

### The Indiana Pi Legislation

This is a guest post by Storm Reinbolt, outlining a historical mathematical incident which almost caused a misdefinition!

π is an irrational number that is equal to 3.1415926535 (to 10 digits). Things could have been different, however, if Dr. Edward J. Goodwin succeeded in passing Indiana Bill No. 246. This bill would have completely changed π and mathematics as a whole.

In 1894, Dr. Goodwin, a physician who dabbled in mathematics, claimed to have solved some of the most complex problems in math. Among these was the problem of squaring the circle, which was proposed to be impossible by the French Academy in 1775. This is impossible due to the fact the area of a circle is $\pi \cdot r^2$, where $r$ is the radius, and the area of a square is $s^2$, where $s$ is the length of each side.

This was proven by Ferdinand von Lindemann in 1882, and is what makes squaring a circle impossible.

In order to square a circle, $\pi \cdot r^2$ must be equal to $s^2$. For example, if $r=1$, we would have $\pi \cdot 1^2 = s^2$, or $\pi = s^2$. This would mean that each side of the square is equal to the square root of π, and since π is transcendental, there’s no algebraic expression that could describe π.

Regardless, Goodwin claimed to have done it, and published his paper to American Mathematical Monthly in 1894. It was gibberish, and no amount of understanding in mathematics would make his work comprehensible. He claimed nine different values of π across his many works, with one claim going as far as $9.2376\ldots$, “the biggest overestimate of π in the history of mathematics” (A History of Pi). When his theories weren’t becoming popular, he decided to take them to the Indiana State Legislature on January 18, 1897.

Goodwin had convinced his state representative, Taylor I. Record, to introduce House Bill 246 (Indiana Bill No. 246). House Bill 246 would make Goodwin’s method of squaring the circle a part of Indiana law. However, those in the legislature either didn’t understand or didn’t even glance at the bill – and the House Committee on Canals decided to pass it. Dr. Goodwin’s ridiculous bill was now headed to the senate.

At the statehouse where the senate took up the bill was Professor Clarence Abiathar Waldo, a mathematics professor from New York. When Waldo heard what the bill was about, he was shocked to discover he was in the middle of a debate on a fundamental principle of mathematics. He decided to intervene and talk to the senators about the repercussions the bill would have on everything mathematics, and was able to stop the bill from passing the second chamber.

After Waldo’s intervention, it was clear to everyone that the people involved in the attempted passing of the bill, including Dr. Goodwin, were all wrong, and it was ridiculous to define mathematical truth by law.

## Community News

The Spectra Math (@LGBTMath) account has announced that the AMS (American Mathematical Society) has instituted a new policy, based on consultations with Spectra, concerning author name changes. The policy is intended to make its journals more inclusive, especially of trans and non-binary researchers. The policy seeks to provide a simple and efficient way for authors to update their name on published articles in a minimally intrusive way that respects the author’s privacy.

‘Author Name Changes’, on the AMS website

The Eindhoven University of Technology has advertised a post for a Full Professor in Applied Algebra and Geometry, which for the first six months of being advertised will only be open to female candidates. The post is part of the Irène Curie Fellowship program, which is dedicated to reaching at least 30% female researchers on TU/e’s permanent academic staff by 2024.

Job advert: Full Professor in Applied Algebra and Geometry

Igalia, contributors to digital maths writing standard MathML, have announce their intent to ship MathML support in Chromium going forward. They claim this announcement is a big step towards having MathML support enabled in Chromium (and hence Chrome) by default. (via Deyan Ginev on Twitter).

Despite previous big promises, the UK government has failed to deliver a promised £300m in funding for pure maths research, as revealed in a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee. It’s covered in this Times Higher Ed article (paywalled), or you can watch the proceedings on Parliamentlive.tv (via Protect Pure Maths on Twitter).

## Maths Developments

Scientists in Japan have built a tiny Möbius strip from carbon nanotube building blocks (New Scientist article).

In a paper titled ‘The Next 350 Million Knots’, mathematician Benjamin A. Burton at The University of Queensland has enumerated all knots up to 19 crossings, meaning we now have a total of 352152252 known distinct non-trivial prime knots (only infinity to go!) (via Ian Agol).

Google’s Emma Haruka Iwao, architect of a previous large π digit calculation record announcement in 2019, is at it again: the 100 trillionth digit of π in base 10 has been revealed to be (spoiler alert) 0. According to a post on the Google Blog, the calculation took over 157 days and processed around 82,000 terabytes of data.

## Events

The ICMS (International Centre for Mathematical Sciences) in Edinburgh has instituted a visiting fellow in music, with the inaugural recipient being Julien Lonchamp, an orchestral composer who has scored a number of short films.

He is interested in how sound and music work at the interface with other disciplines, including visual art and science. He aims to create novel immersive “sound-worlds” by combining a wide range of composition processes in order to communicate abstract or complex ideas.

ICMS press release

If you enjoyed this news item, check out his Soundcloud.

Since these news items are saved up for the end of the month, we can exclusively reveal that registration for the virtual ICM (International Congress of Mathematics) 2022 is both open, and already full. Luckily all lectures will be recorded and made available online afterwards.

## And finally

The most important news item of the month was that Guinness has announced the world record for solving three Rubik’s cubes while juggling them was recently smashed by Colombian 19-year-old Angel Alvarado. There’s a video of the new record solve, which took 4:31.01 (beating Angel’s own previous record of 4:52.43, set in May 2021).

### Searching for the truth

Earlier today, I tweeted about my exciting new Pi search website, which lets you search for any string of digits within the infinite decimal expansion of π. If you haven’t seen it, go and check it out now.

### MathsCity hosts freehand circle-drawing competition for π day

To celebrate 14th March (π day), MathsCity in Leeds is hosting a competition to celebrate everyone’s favourite geometrical shape whose circumference is π times its diameter: the circle.

### Aperiodical News Roundup – November 2021

Here’s a roundup of some of the news stories from the world of maths in the month of November.

### Events

Eugenie Hunsicker and collaborators have produced a film entitled “Words of Women in Mathematics in the Time of Corona”, which raises awareness of the impact of the pandemic on women in mathematics.

The QE Prize for Engineering’s ‘Month of Making’, as featured previously in a post announcing the start, is well under way and continues until 12th December, with scientific, mathematical and engineeringy ideas for make-it-yourself gifts every day.

This month saw the official launch of MathsCity Leeds, as previously covered in this review by hands-on discovery centre correspondent Peter and his son.

Leading mathematicians, council members, and key professionals from tourist attractions and universities across the country were just some of the guests that attended the bustling launch party last night for the UK’s first maths discovery centre. […] Celebrating the milestone achievement by the pioneering charity MathsWorldUK, the MathsCity launch was an opportunity to show donors, supporters, and future investors why the innovative new attraction that opened its doors in Leeds City Centre last month is so important for the future.

North East Post

Attempts to start a proof assistants stack exchange have been successful, and the Stack Exchange team are “are preparing for its launch and expect to create it soon”. (via Andrej Bauer)

A new paper has been published in Nature about the use of machine learning in pure maths research. This isn’t machine learning making new maths, but rather it’s pitched as a collaboration between mathematician and machine – the authors argue that machine learning can be used “to guide intuition and propose conjectures”. The paper gives some examples of new fundamental results in pure mathematics that have been discovered with the assistance of machine learning.

### Open Calls

The IMA has launched a poster competition called How Maths Helps People, in which high school students are asked to design an A4 “persuasive poster which shows how maths can be used to help people”. The poster should be aimed at high school students, and students with winning posters in each age group will receive an Android tablet. The closing date is 31st January 2022.

The LMS has announced its annual call for nominations for its 2022 prizes, which are awarded in various categories for mathematical research, innovation and exposition.

Recreational Maths Magazine has issued a call for proposals for its upcoming π-themed issue, which will be their first specially themed issue. Calls close on 14th March 2022 (obviously).

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum, which takes place in September in Heidelberg, Germany, and brings together top-level maths laureates with young researchers for a week of lectures, workshops and networking has announced that applications for young researchers to attend HLF 2022 are now open. If you know any PhD or postdoc mathematicians who would like a chance to meet some cool people and have a great trip to Germany, encourage them to apply!