Tag: mathematics

Anatomy of a Puzzle
Recently I was asked to provide a Puzzle For Today for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme which was partially coming as an Outside Broadcast from Ulster University. I’ve written a post about the puzzle itself, and some of the ramifications of it; this post is really more about the thought process that went into…

My Puzzle for the Day
In November 2018 the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme was visiting Ulster University for an outside broadcast. I was asked to write the Puzzle for the Day for the broadcast. Here is my puzzle and some discussion about how it can be solved. The puzzle and a very brief solution is on the BBC page,…

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
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…

Probability, Top Gear and the Lottery
Top Gear recently got themselves in trouble in Argentina, over an argument about whether one of their registration plates was a reference to the Falklands War. According to the Mirror, and I realise this may not be the strongest start, “But bookies William Hill said the odds of coincidentally buying a car with that reg…

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…

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…