The phrase `squaring the circle’ generally denotes an impossible task. The original problem was one of three unsolved challenges in Greek geometry, along with trisecting an angle and duplicating a cube. The problem was to construct a square with area equal to that of a given circle, using only straightedge and compass.

## Archive for November, 2020

### Ireland’s Mapping Grid in Harmony with GPS

Published November 19, 2020 Irish Times ClosedTags: Geophysics, Maps, Spherical Trigonometry

The earthly globe is spherical; more precisely, it is an oblate spheroid, like a ball slightly flattened at the poles. More precisely still, it is a triaxial ellipsoid that closely approximates a “geoid”, a surface of constant gravitational potential [TM199 or search for “thatsmaths” at irishtimes.com].

Continue reading ‘Ireland’s Mapping Grid in Harmony with GPS’

Georg Cantor developed a remarkable theory of infinite sets. He was the first person to show that *not all infinite sets are created equal*. The number of elements in a set is indicated by its cardinality. Two sets with the same cardinal number are “the same size”. For two finite sets, if there is a one-to-one correspondence — or bijection — between them, they have the same number of elements. Cantor extended this equivalence to infinite sets.

### Weather Forecasts get Better and Better

Published November 5, 2020 Irish Times ClosedTags: Geophysics, Numerical Weather Prediction

Weather forecasts are getting better. Fifty years ago, predictions beyond one day ahead were of dubious utility. Now, forecasts out to a week ahead are generally reliable [TM198 or search for “thatsmaths” at irishtimes.com].

Careful measurements of forecast accuracy have shown that the range for a fixed level of skill has been increasing by one day every decade. Thus, today’s one-week forecasts are about as good as a typical three-day forecast was in 1980. How has this happened? And will this remarkable progress continue?