Posts Tagged 'biology'

The Miraculous Spiral on Booterstown Strand

We all know what a spiral looks like. Or do we? Ask your friends to describe one and they will probably trace out the form of a winding staircase. But that is actually a helix, a curve in three-dimensional space. A spiral is confined to a plane – it is a flat curve. In general terms, a spiral is formed by a point moving around a fixed centre while its distance increases or decreases as it revolves [see TM145, or search for “thatsmaths” at].


The spiral sandbank on Booterstown strand (satellite image digitally enhanced by Andrew Lynch).

Continue reading ‘The Miraculous Spiral on Booterstown Strand’

The Heart of Mathematics

At five litres per minute the average human heart pumps nearly 200 megalitres of blood through the body in a lifetime. Heart disease causes 40 percent of deaths in the EU and costs hundreds of billions of Euros every year. Mathematics can help to improve our knowledge of heart disease and our understanding of cardiac malfunction [TM131 or search for “thatsmaths” at].


Continue reading ‘The Heart of Mathematics’

The Inexorable Rise in Life Expectancy

Life expectancy has increased in a spectacular fashion over the past 150 years. There has been a four-decade increase in average length of life over the period since 1850. World life expectancy has more than doubled, from about 25 years to around 65 years for men and 70 years for women.  [TM089, or search for “thatsmaths” at].


Global (male) life expectancy in years. Image Wikimedia Commons.

Continue reading ‘The Inexorable Rise in Life Expectancy’

Biomathematics: the New Frontier

Mathematics is coming to Life in a Big Way. This week’s That’s Maths in The Irish Times (TM051, or Search for “thatsmaths” at is about the increasing importance of mathematics in the biological sciences.

Biological network modelled by Boris Kholodenko, SBI. [Frosted vinyl print on wall of SBI boardroom in UCD]

Biological network modelled by Boris Kholodenko, SBI.
[Frosted vinyl print on wall of SBI boardroom in UCD]

Continue reading ‘Biomathematics: the New Frontier’

Sunflowers and Fibonacci: Models of Efficiency

The article in this week’s That’s Maths column in The Irish Times ( TM046 ) is about the maths behind the efficient packing of sunflowers and many other plants


Strolling along Baggot Street in Dublin recently, I noticed a plaque at the entrance to the Ibec head office. It showed a circular pattern of dots, reminiscent of the head of a sunflower. According to the Ibec website, “The spiral motif brings dynamism … and hints at Ibec’s member-centric ethos.” Wonderful! In fact, the pattern in the logo is vastly more interesting than this. Continue reading ‘Sunflowers and Fibonacci: Models of Efficiency’

Predator-Prey Models

Next week’s post will be about a model of the future of civilization! It is based on the classical predator-prey model, which is reviewed here.

Solution for X(T) and Y(T) for 30 time units. X(0)=0.5, Y(0)=0.2 and k=0.5.

Solution for X (blue) and Y (red) for 30 time units. X(0)=0.5, Y(0)=0.2 and k=0.5.

Continue reading ‘Predator-Prey Models’

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]

Continue reading ‘Spots and Stripes’

Last 50 Posts