### A Brilliant Young Mind

Maths at the Movies – A Brilliant Young Mind

~A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad~

October14

Maths at the Movies – A Brilliant Young Mind

~A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad~

October13

By definition, a Paradox is an absurd statement which may prove to be true. The amazingly impossible designs of the artist Escher are excellent examples and his work is shown in the sculpture above. Mathematics is one large system of logic – a kind of universal language that transcends individual civilizations and specific languages. As such, certain paradoxes have arisen that have troubled mathematicians from ancient times to the present. Some are false paradoxes in that they do not present actual contradictions, but are merely slick logic tricks. Others have shaken the very foundations of Mathematics – requiring brilliant, creative mathematical thinking to resolve. Others remain unresolved to this day. Check some of these out in the Math Forum.

October13

Frustrated maths fans were recently seething at a puzzling question. The trick question about Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was trending on Twitter after an alarmed person posted it.

*“An orchestra of 120 players takes 40 minutes to play Beethoven’s 9th symphony,” the question goes. “How long would it take for 60 players to play the symphony?”*

The incensed tweeter wrote: “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.” Read more here.

October12

*“I am inspired by Pythagoras, who saw maths sitting at the centre of art, life and nature.”*

This picture of John Sims was taken at a recent exhibition where he displayed 13 math/art quilts, nine dresses based on the number Pi, a blues composition based on Pi and many other mathartifacts. In his own words, “I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and became interested in maths through a high-school science-fair project on Pythagorean triples. It was in graduate school that I started to connect maths and art. I taught a calculus course where I allowed the students to make a ‘cheat sheet’ of notes and formulae to take into the exam. One was visually stimulating, so I bought it. Later, I met mathematician John Horton Conway and sculptor Brent Collins who got me excited about visual maths and art. Soon after, I went to Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, to develop a maths curriculum for art students.

I admire the work of the sixteenth-century painter Albrecht Dürer, particularly his use of magic squares [number grids in which every row, every column and the diagonals sum to the same constant]. I like the way that M. C. Escher was able to draw on the tradition of Islamic geometric art in a representational context, and I like his lithograph of an impossible waterfall inspired by the work of British mathematician Roger Penrose. In the conceptual realm, I like the surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp for his subversive audacity. However, my greatest influence is the unfolding system of structures, patterns and cycles of nature itself.

It is art that embraces the spirit, language and process of mathematics. Both maths and art are concerned with truth, but they differ in their ways of searching for it. Maths uses analysis and proof; art uses the senses and emotions. But maths can harness the spirit of creativity and art can be analytical. Together they form a great alliance for understanding the world around us.” From an interview in Nature.

September30

The world has waited with bated breath for 30 years, and now finally a group of academics, engineers, and math geeks has discovered the number that explains life, the universe, and everything. That number is **20**, and it’s the maximum number of moves it takes to solve a Rubik’s Cube.

Known as God’s Number, the magic number required about 35 CPU-years and a good deal of man-hours to solve. Why? Because there’s 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible positions of the cube, and the computer algorithm that finally cracked God’s Algorithm had to solve them all. (The terms “God’s Number/Algorithm are derived from the fact that if God was solving a Cube, he/she/it would do it in the most efficient way possible. The Creator did not endorse this study, and could not be reached for comment.) Read more here.

September29

‘Sadie’ is such a lovely dog – playful, cuddly and, well, just cute! But, your parents are going out to buy 24 meters of fencing to make a pen for dear Sadie. What will you do while they are out shopping? Why, play with Sadie of course? No, no, no – you have to put your math skills to use and work out the maximum size that Sadie’s pen can be made using the 24 meters of fencing. But, being the helpful parents they are, they have suggested that you use an Excel spreadsheet to find out the maximum area using different lengths and widths for the pen. A snapshot of the spreadsheet is set up for you and one attached for you to complete. The solution will be posted in the ‘Post Support’ shortly, or you can comment back to this post. Good luck!

August25

For nearly 100 years, the mysterious tablet above (no, it’s not an iPad) has been referred to as * Plimpton 322*. It was first discovered in Iraq in the early 1900s by Edgar Banks, the American archaeologist on which the character Indiana Jones is thought to have been largely based.

Now researchers from the University of New South Wales are calling it one of the oldest and possibly most accurate trigonometric tables of the ancient world.

Findings published in the journal *Historia Mathematica*, the official journal for the International Commission on the History of Math, reveal how researchers dated the ancient clay tablet and came to conclusions about its use.

The tablet is arranged in a series of 15 rows intersected by four columns. According to the UNSW researchers the tablet uses a base number of 60, which may have been used to allow ancient Babylonians to derive integers instead of fractions.

Norman Wildberger, explained that the research team reached their conclusions that the tablet was used for the study of triangles by findings based on ratios, not angles. In the top row of the tablet, said Wildberger, relatively equal ratios create a near equilateral triangle. Descending down the tablet, the ratios decrease the triangle’s inclination, creating narrower triangles.

“*It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius*,” said University of New South Wales researcher Daniel Mansfield in a press release.

The researchers speculate the tablet could have been used to survey fields or construct buildings. For example, knowing the height and width of a building, ancient builders would have been able to calculate the exact measurements need to build pyramid slopes. (source: National Geographic)

Watch more here…

July16

Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian-born mathematician who in 2014 became the first woman awarded the Fields Medal, often called the most prestigious prize in mathematics, died July 15. She was 40.

Stanford University, where she had been a professor since 2008, announced her death. The cause was breast cancer.

Dr Mirzakhani grew up in Tehran and came to the United States in 1999 for graduate study at Harvard University. Her mathematical interests included the theoretical study of complex geometric shapes and the movement of billiard balls across surfaces.

Her work was deeply theoretical, but other mathematicians considered it boldly original and of untold future importance. Her doctoral dissertation, which she completed in 2004, solved two long-standing mathematical problems and led to publications in three major mathematics journals. (source: stuff.co.nz)

June21

Team New Zealand is the crew sailing against America for “The Old Mug”, a rather ugly trophy that represents the Formula 1 of yachting and is the oldest international sporting competition. It was initially sailed in large sloops, but is now hi-tech in catamarans than lift off the ocean on complex “foils” – thereby providing less hull resistance. This equals high speeds and the use of complex controls to gain speed advantage. Team New Zealand’s Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi, who holds a PhD in mathematical modelling and aerodynamics, backed up with a Masters from Cambridge University, has been credited as the key driving force behind Team NZ’s radical design. You can follow this exciting application of fluid Mathematics in action here.