The article in this week’s *That’s Maths* column in the* Irish Times* ( TM043 ) is about the mathematical curves called clothoids, used in the design of motorways.

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Tags: Euler, Geometry, Mechanics, modelling

The article in this week’s *That’s Maths* column in the* Irish Times* ( TM043 ) is about the mathematical curves called clothoids, used in the design of motorways.

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Tags: Applied Maths, Mechanics, Physics

We all know the feeling when a car takes a corner too fast and we are thrown outward by the centrifugal force. This effect is deliberately exploited, and accentuated, in designing rollercoasters: rapid twists and turns, surges and plunges thrill the willing riders.

Many modern rollercoasters have vertical loops that take the trains through 360 degree turns with the riders upside-down at the apex. These loops are never circular, for reasons we will explain.

Continue reading ‘Rollercoaster Loops’

This week, *That’s Maths* in* The Irish Times* ( TM042 ) is about the remarkable capacity of mathematics to anticipate physical phenomena that have not yet been observed.

The mathematical equations that express the laws of physics describe phenomena seen in the real world. But they also allow us to anticipate completely new phenomena.

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Tags: Astronomy, Mechanics

Remarkable progress in understanding the dynamics of the planets has been possible thanks to their relatively small masses and the overwhelming dominance of the Sun. The figure below shows the relative masses of the Sun, planets and some natural satellites, taking the mass of Earth to be unity.

Tags: Algebra, Analysis, Geometry, Number Theory

This week, *That’s Maths* in *The Irish Times* ( TM041 ) is about an ambitious program to unify mathematics.

Mathematics expands! Results once proven to be true remain forever true. They are not displaced by subsequent results, but absorbed in an ever-growing theoretical web. Thus, it is increasingly difficult for any individual mathematician to have a comprehensive understanding of even a single field of mathematics: the web of knowledge grows so fast that no-one can master it all.

Tags: Algebra, Analysis, Arithmetic, Group Theory, Number Theory

An ambitious programme to unify disparate areas of mathematics was set out some fifty years ago by Robert Langlands of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. The “Langlands Program” (LP) is a set of deep conjectures that attempt to build bridges between certain algebraic and analytical objects.

Tags: Computer Science, Geophysics, Numerical Analysis

The Earth’s climate is changing, and the consequences may be very grave. This week, *That’s Maths* in *The Irish Times* ( TM040 ) is about computer models for simulating and predicting the future climate.