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Guesting on the ‘Wrong, But Useful’ first anniversary episode

You may recall that Samuel Hansen and I used to have a weekly conversation about mathematics in the news and news in mathematics, which we called the Math/Maths Podcast and released through the (still going!) science communication project Pulse-Project. When we put Math/Maths on hiatus (the length of which is still an open question), this left a gap in the lucrative ‘two blokes talking about maths-y stuff’ market. Leaping on the opportunity, plucky young podcasters Colin Beveridge and Dave Gale started Wrong, But Useful (as you may recall from a previous post here). Well, that was a year ago now and, as creatures whose outlook is tied to this planet, that is apparently worth celebrating. Through a careful constructed mock-feud, Colin and Dave reeled in first Samuel and then me to join them in an anniversary recording.

Podcasting update

I have a job. This is not the podcasting update, but it does affect it! If you have listened to the latest Math/Maths Podcast you will know that I will be lecturing mathematics from January while trying to finish my PhD thesis, and that we will be putting that podcast on hiatus while I do so. This means no more talking to Samuel Hansen for at least six months.

There is something you can do to fill this mathematical podcasting gap, however. Samuel is trying to raise money through a Kickstarter to allow him upgrade his equipment and improve the quality, to pay for the travel to conduct face-to-face interviews and to make this his full-time job so he can concentrate on a regular release schedule, for his work in maths (math) and science communication over at

At Kickstarter, Samuel says: has spent the last four years trying to do something that very few others have ever attempted, create entertaining, insightful, and interesting content about mathematics and science. Started by Samuel Hansen in the beginning of 2009, ACMEScience has produced a pop-culture joke filled mathematical panel show, Combinations and Permutations, a show that interviews everyone from the CEO of a stats driven dating site to a stand up mathematician to Neil deGrasse Tyson, Strongly Connected Components, a show that tells the stories of the fights that behind DNA, dinosaurs, and the shape of the universe, Science Sparring Society, a video interview show that has featured predatory bacteria and crowdsourced questions, ACMEScience News Now, and a series of hour long journeys into the world of competitive AI checkers computers and stories of the most interesting 20th C mathematician and much more, Relatively Prime.

You may remember that Samuel raised money through a Kickstarter before, for the extremely well-received documentary series Relatively Prime. So you might judge this as evidence that he is capable of delivering this project. However, you may also remember that if he doesn’t raise the whole amount he needs then he gets nothing.

There are various pledge levels, with various rewards. Some of these are aimed at the individual who wants to own a piece of the project. Others are aimed at people who want to sponsor/advertise via the shows and get their message out there. Looking at the level of pledges so far, Samuel could really do with a few companies or individuals who want to get a message out to a mathematics or science audience coming forward and pledging some money. Relatively Prime was very well listened to, and you could get your message to a large, focused, engaged set of listeners.

There is not long to go (only four days at time of writing) and it doesn’t look good. So please pitch in and also tell everyone you know via your own blog/podcast/social networks/etc. so that others will support his effort.

Here is the video in which Samuel makes his case. It’s six minutes so at least watch that! The Kickstarter page is by Samuel Hansen. Donating is easy through Amazon payments.

Relatively Prime is done

This is the first Monday in quite a while that I haven’t had a new episode of Relatively Prime to listen to. That’s because all eight episodes have now been released. I meant to put a little post up each week reminding you to listen to the latest episode, but I completely forgot to do that, so here’s a post saying you can now listen to the whole lot. And you should.

I told you so: Relatively Prime has begun

Do you remember when I told you why I supported Relatively Prime and you should too? I said:

Samuel is an enthusiastic communicator of mathematics and has the technical skills to make an excellent producer of content. You may have enjoyed what he does as my co-host on the Math/Maths Podcast, or his interview show Strongly Connected Components, or his irreverent maths chat show Combinations and Permutations. Much as these are good outputs, they all have an element of being as good as they be in spare time. I don’t know about you, but of the two options on his crossroads I would like to live in a world where Samuel can take his enthusiasm and technical expertise and spend some serious time concerning himself with mathematics communication.

Well, now is my chance to say “I told you so”. Following that amazing day when I told you that next time you wake up, Relatively Prime will be a missed opportunity unless you act, 159 people donated to make the project a reality and Samuel has spent 11 months doing the work: travelling the world, recording interviews and editing (so much editing).

Now he has released the first episode of this eight-part audio documentary series. And it’s good!

The Toolbox
The mathematics that we all learn in school is great. No, really, it is. How can anyone get through life without knowing how to add or subtract. Multiply or divide. Solve for an unknown or factor a polynomial. OK, you might be able to get through life without that last one, but the point still stands, the mathematics that we all learn in school is great.  It isn’t everything though. There are a lot of other tools that mathematics has to offer that could enrich people’s lives. On this episode Samuel Hansen rummages through his mathematical tool box and showcases three tools he feel are going to be very important in the coming years.

The series will run until 5th November, with a new episode being released every Monday. (And I hear the completion of his achievement will be marked with national fireworks.) The show is available to download directly at the show’s website, but don’t forget to subscribe through iTunes or through the RSS Feed.

Plus it’s a chance to check how well he stuck to those hints he gave about Relatively Prime content, and tease him about the inevitable changes of plan!

Relatively Prime, All in a Name

“Prime. Prime? Prime! Prime factors, twin primes, pseudo-primes? No, no no. Relatively Prime? Yes, Relatively Prime.”

I have a problem, no matter how good an idea I have I can not start to work on it until I have a name. Some names are easy, Combination and Permutations was a name well before I ever had a show to use it, Science Sparring Society followed directly from the concept, and ACMEScience NEWS NOW actually told me what type of show I would be making. Other names are hard.

I had the underlying idea for Relatively Prime (get the first episode here) in an extreme bout of egotism and delusion of grandeur where I spent too long listening to Radio Lab, This American Life, and Snap Judgment and began to think, “Hey, I could do that, but for math.”

ACMEScience NEWS NOW ep 2: Sally Dodson-Robinson

Samuel Hansen is a busy man. As well as finishing off Relatively Prime, he’s continually making up new ideas for podcasts. His latest effort is ACMEScience NEWS NOW ((yes, the title has more capitals than a particularly pillarific Medieval cathedral, but that seems to be the way Sam is doing things)), a series of video interviews with the people behind scientific and mathematical research stories in the news.

We didn’t post about episode 1, with Paul Hines talking about crowdsourcing, due to it coming out in that weird bit of the Summer where all three of us fell asleep for a few weeks. But last night Sam posted episode 2 — an interview with Sally Dodson-Robinson about modelling planet formation — so here it is:

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You can subscribe to the ACMEScience NEWS NOW channel on its YouTube page.