Archive for April, 2013

Spots and Stripes

How do leopards get their spots? Mathematics gives us a better answer than the one offered by Rudyard Kipling in Just So Stories. This is the topic of That’s Maths this week ( TM019 ).

African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus). [Image from Wikimedia Commons]

African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus). [Image from Wikimedia Commons]

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Dis, Dat, Dix & Douze

How many fingers has Mickey Mouse? A glance at the figure shows that he has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, so eight in all. Thus, we may expect Mickey to reckon in octal numbers, with base eight. We use decimals, with ten symbols from 0 to 9 for the smallest numbers and larger numbers denoted by several digits, whose position is significant. Thus, 47 means four tens plus seven units.
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Pythagoras goes Global

Spherical trigonometry has all the qualities we expect of the best mathematics: it is beautiful, useful and fun. It played an enormously important role in science for thousands of years. It was crucial for astronomy, and essential for global navigation. Yet, it has fallen out of fashion, and is almost completely ignored in modern education.
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Bayes Rules OK

This week, That’s Maths ( TM018 ) deals with the “war” between Bayesians and frequentists, a long-running conflict that has now subsided. It is 250 years since the presentation of Bayes’ results to the Royal Society in 1763.

The column below was inspired by a book, The Theory that would not Die, by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, published by Yale University Press in 2011.
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