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…

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)

]]>We’re used to thinking of the world from a 3-D perspective, so this may sound a bit tricky, but the results of this new study could be the next major step in understanding the fabric of the human brain – the most complex structure we know of.

The team used algebraic topology, a branch of mathematics used to describe the properties of objects and spaces regardless of how they change shape. They found that groups of neurons connect into ‘cliques’, and that the number of neurons in a clique would lead to its size as a high-dimensional geometric object.

“We found a world that we had never imagined,” says lead researcher, neuroscientist Henry Markram from the EPFL institute in Switzerland.

“There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to 11 dimensions.”

Human brains are estimated to have a staggering 86 billion neurons, with multiple connections from each cell webbing in every possible direction, forming the vast cellular network that somehow makes us capable of thought and consciousness.

With such a huge number of connections to work with, it’s no wonder we still don’t have a thorough understanding of how the brain’s neural network operates. But the new mathematical framework built by the team takes us one step closer to one day having a digital brain model.

To perform the mathematical tests, the team used a detailed model of the neocortex the Blue Brain Project team published back in 2015. The neocortex is thought to be the most recently evolved part of our brains, and the one involved in some of our higher-order functions like cognition and sensory perception.

According to the researchers, algebraic topology provides mathematical tools for discerning details of the neural network both in a close-up view at the level of individual neurons, and a grander scale of the brain structure as a whole.

Read the full article from science alert here and more details on this amazing project here.

]]>The trick, they say, is to use the curvature of space-time in the Universe to bend time into a circle for hypothetical passengers sitting in the box, and that circle allows them to skip into the future and the past.

“People think of time travel as something as fiction. And we tend to think it’s not possible because we don’t actually do it,” says theoretical physicist and mathematician, Ben Tippett, from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

“But, mathematically, it is possible.”

Together with David Tsang, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland, Tippett has used Einstein’s theory of general relativity to come up with a mathematical model of what they’re calling a Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time (yep, the acronym is literally TARDIS). Read more here.

]]>“AI [artificial intelligence], energy and biosciences are promising fields where you can make a huge difference,” Mr Gates said on Twitter.

Does this mean that you need a strong Science background? Not necessarily, but it is critical in all these fields to have a strong base of Mathematics. As was posted before, taking your math as far as you can is the best foundation for career opportunities, whether you follow Bill’s advice or not.

]]>Different careers make use of different Mathematics skills. Check out the excellent summary, as well as some other great resources, at WeUseMath.org

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