Archive for September, 2012

The End of Smallpox

Daniel Bernoulli was born in 1700 into a remarkably talented family. He excelled in mathematics, but also studied and lectured in medicine, botany and physics. In 1760, he submitted a paper to the Academy of Sciences in Paris dealing with the effects of inoculation on morbidity. Continue reading ‘The End of Smallpox’

Khan Academy

This week, That’s Maths (TM005) discusses the large range of maths education videos that are available free of charge from the Khan Academy website.  There are about 3,200 tutorials, covering the whole range of second-level mathematics.

Salman Khan’s Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) presentation is available on-line: Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education.

There are several other websites with secondary level maths videos. One of the best is the MathCentre. MathCentre provides second level mathematics support materials to students and teachers. MathCentre team members are also active in university mathematics support centres

More videos on mathematics are available at Udacity. Tutorials are at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. There are also units on physics and computer science.

The Beautiful Game

What is the most beautiful rectangular shape? What is the ratio of width to height that is most aesthetically pleasing? This question has been considered by art-lovers for centuries and one value appears consistently, called the golden ratio or Divine proportion. Continue reading ‘The Beautiful Game’

Packing & Stacking

In That’s Maths this week (TM004), we look at the problem of packing goods of fixed size and shape in the most efficient way. Packing problems, concerned with storing objects as densely as possible in a container, have a long history, and have broad applications in engineering and industry.

Johannes Kepler conjectured that the standard method used by grocers to pile oranges and gunners to stack cannon balls is the most efficient, but this conjecture was proved only recently by Thomas Hales. The mathematics involved in packing problems includes computational techniques, differential geometry and optimization algorithms.

The Foams and Complex Systems Group in Trinity College Dublin have recently discovered some new dense packings of spheres in cylindrical columns. An International Workshop on Packing Problems took place in TCD on 2-5 Sept. 2012. For more information, look here.


No Maths Involved!

Whether or not you enjoy solving them, those 9×9 grids with numbers and blank cells cannot have escaped your notice. Sudoku puzzles have swept the world since exploding on the scene in 2005. They are found in newspapers everywhere, providing daily amusement to all who like a minor mathematical challenge. Continue reading ‘No Maths Involved!’

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