post

To share, or not to share

The Montagues and the Capulets have never been friends and Juliet is quite aware of this. Even at her young age, she knows that her love for Romeo is an impossible dream her father will never accept. So, she designs a strategic plan. She will take a couple of sleeping pills, just enough to make her look like she is dead to trick everyone into thinking that she has passed away. Brilliant! If everything goes right, she will always be happy with Romeo… but if things go wrong… well, you never know. Continue reading

post

Should you buy a Valentine’s day present?

Valentine’s day is just around the corner and you are still not sure whether or not you should buy your beloved one a present.  It’s a tough call. Should you spend money on buying your partner some chocolates and a teddy bear (that no one wants anyway), or will you risk it and bring only a charming smile to your romantic dinner? Continue reading

post

Catching criminals with maths

As a result of decades of empirical research, crime science has emerged as the leading multidisciplinary approach to develop new ways to tackle crime and terrorism. As opposed to traditional criminologists, crime scientists commonly use a broad spectrum of different disciplines and sciences to achieve their aim of cutting crime. Using knowledge from chemistry, geography and physics, to architecture, public health, psychology and information technology, crime science has been able to offer new solutions to the most pressing issues that impact on the health and security of millions of people. Among all the fields and disciplines used, applied mathematics, statistics and econometrics are perhaps the most common tools used by crime scientists.  Continue reading

post

The spider witch project

If spiders could count all the way up to forty, calculate angles and tensions, then perhaps we could explain why their webs all follow a similar pattern, having a similar number of strings and turns and flips… but the reality is that they (probably) can’t, so the fact that webs are similar must be because spiders are really good at minimising functions! Continue reading

post

Why I hate an empty bus stop

Every time I walk into an empty bus stop, I feel like I will have to wait for a much longer time until the next bus arrives. Why am I the first passenger to arrive? And, more importantly, how much longer do I have to wait, now that I know that I am the first passenger in the queue? Chances are that the last bus left the stop just seconds ago, therefore the stop is empty.

Continue reading

post

Cracking the Guess Who? board game

Does this person have ginger hair?
  Is this person a boy?
  Is she wearing a hat?
  Is your person Anita?

Maybe everyone has played Guess Who? the board game where you try to guess which character your opponent has before they find out yours. For those who have never played Guess Who?, the game goes as follows: each player picks a card at random, on which will be drawn the face of a character. In turns, the two players ask each other yes/no questions to try and guess who their opponent has picked. A board with all the images of the characters initially standing up helps the player keep track of which ones have been eliminated along the way. Continue reading

post

Are we getting tired of Twitter?

twitdeadCould one ever get tired of those 140 characters of freedom? With the ability of opening a Twitter account for free and then sharing thoughts, pictures, videos and links with the rest of the world (except for some countries), will the number of users continue to grow until everybody has an account? Recent data shows that perhaps the world is actually getting tired of Twitter: the number of monthly active users of the network, at least in the US, has practically remained constant for the last year (one could even say that it decreased slightly, taking into account the 0.7% population growth of that country). This is the end of Twitter’s golden era, in which they managed to double the amount of users year after year.

Continue reading

post

Fractional calculus: the calculus of witchcraft and wizardry

Differentiating a function is usually regarded as a discrete operation: we use the first derivative of a function to determine the slope of the line that is tangent to it, and we differentiate twice if we want to know the curvature. We can even differentiate a function negative times—ie integrate it—and thanks to that we measure the area under a curve. But why stop there? Is calculus limited to discrete operations, or is there a way to define the half derivative of a function? Is there even an interpretation or an application of the half derivative?

Continue reading

post

100 years with the Sierpinski triangle

2015 is the 100th anniversary of the Sierpinski triangle, first described by Wacław Sierpiński, a Polish mathematician who published 724 papers and 50 books during his lifetime! The famous triangle is easily constructed by following these steps:

  • Start with an equilateral triangle.
  • Divide that triangle into four equilateral triangles and remove the one in the centre.
  • Repeat the same steps with the remaining triangles, dividing each one into four triangles and removing the one in the centre.

Continue reading