• Review: The Very Short Introduction

    Review: The Very Short Introduction

    Infinity, A Very Short Introduction, by Ian Stewart This review was originally written for the London Mathematical Society November 2018 Newsletter. The book can be found here. The “Very Short Introduction” series by Oxford University Press attempt to take a moderately deep dive into various subjects in a slimline volume. Professor Stuart addresses the apparent […]

  • The Deceptiveness of Coincidence

    The Deceptiveness of Coincidence

    A friend of mine recently posted about a chain of events – people sharing birthdays – that was so unlikely that a lottery ticket purchase was called for. Most people might make similar comments as the oddity of these events struck them. There followed some discussion about these problems and it made me think of […]

  • Academic Family Tree, LaTeX and Tikz

    A few years ago, I found out some information on my academic genealogy, going through my supervisor, Brian McMaster, back through others to G.H. Hardy, Newton and Galileo and a little further before the records run dry. Of course it is nice that mathematics is an old and well established discipline with great records. And […]

  • Necessary And Sufficient

    This article contains links to materials and extra resources to my Inaugural Professorial Lecture, with the same name, delivered on 17th February 2016 at Ulster University.   Twitter If you have any comments or questions, use the Twitter hashtag #nesssuff and I’ll pick them up later and try to address them. My Twitter ID is […]

  • Tweaking Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation

    I answered a question on Quora about the consequences of Newton’s law of Universal Gravitation being in inverse law and not an inverse square law for 60 seconds. The outcome is not so good, what with all matter acting as a black hole and all. What would happen if the law of gravity becomes ~1/r […]

  • Chess Boards, Exponential Growth and the Ice Bucket Challenge

    Yesterday I was finally nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge, I had actually thought this inevitable for the reasons in this post, but then it all kind of passed by. As it happens, it was my Daughter Aimee’s fault in the end. :-). So I thought I would use the opportunity to bore people about […]

  • Aikido in Dead Straight Lines

    There’s been an elephant in the room on my blog for quite a while now, and it has prevented me completing a number of articles that I have had in draft for some time. A bit over a year ago, my friend and mentor, Alan Ruddock died. I’ve been trying to articulate what that meant […]

  • Tau versus Pi

    Today, two of my friends independently sent me a story about Tau Day which I had hitherto never heard of. One of them asked for me comment about whether this had any point to it. At first I thought the article was just mathematical trolling, thought about it a bit more, thought there might be […]

  • The Academic Descent to Me

    How interesting, today I learned that Derek Burgess, the PhD supervisor of my PhD supervisor (Brian McMaster) was himself supervised by Frank Smithies. With a little help from the Mathematical Genealogy Project this has helped me work out my academic “parentage”. Colin Turner, Queen’s University of Belfast, 1997 Brian McMaster, Queen’s University of Belfast, 1972 […]

  • More about LHC black holes

    Last week I wrote a little about the size of black holes, and incidentally discussed very primitive calculations I did on the lifespan of any black hole created by the LHC. A few days later, this interesting article showed the results of professional physicists on just how little such little black holes could grow, in […]