Chalkdust review of the year 2015

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It’s been a big year for Chalkdust: a year ago, we didn’t even exist yet! Since starting work on our first issue in February and starting our weekly blog in April, we have been very busy indeed. With the end of the year upon us, there could be no better time to look back at the Chalkdust highlights of the last year.

birth_of_a_theoremIn May, Stephen Muirhead reviewed the recently translated Birth of a Theorem by Cédric Villani. Birth of a Theorem tells the whole story of a theorem, from its origin as a vague idea through to its proof and publications. After reading Stephen’s review of it, you too will probably be adding it to next year’s Christmas list.

In July, many papers, including The Guardian, predicted that the universe will end with a ‘Big Rip’. Our resident mathematical physicist, Matthew Wright, quickly gathered and examined the evidence for this and wrote Will the universe actually end in a big rip? Perhaps unsurprisingly, his conclusion was ‘maybe’, as there is no conclusive evidence either way.

In July, Adam Partridge was inspired by our issue 1 crossnumber to look at pandigital square numbers (square numbers which contain each digit 0 to 9 exactly once). He noticed that they were lots of bases in which there are no pandigital squares. This led to the first Chalkdust-inspired OEIS sequence: A258103 – Number of pandigital squares (containing each digit exactly once) in base n.

In August, Adam Townsend wrote our most popular blog of the year: Is there a perfect maths font?. In this post, Adam took us on a journey through mathematical typesetting, from slowly constructing maths on a typewriter to Microsoft Equation Editor and LaTeΧ. I can’t do this post just here, so if you haven’t already, you should head over and read it now.

CubokuPuzzleAugust also saw the introcution of Rafael Prieto Curiel’s Cuboku puzzles, arguably the best puzzles on our blog this year. These puzzles involve Sudoku-like collections of cubes (hence the name Cuboku), in which each row, column and 2×2 block contains each colour exactly once. If you are a fan of puzzles, then you can find them all here.

In September, Alexandra Fitzsimmons from Maths on Toast wrote about Number Rumbler, a game designed to improve children’s ‘number sense’. Maths on Toast were attempting to crowdfund the game. Since we published this blog post, the funding target was reached and the packs of cards are now on their way to schools and individuals. If you would like a copy of Number Rumbler, you can buy one here.

In October, Camelot added 10 more balls to the Natonal Lottery Lotto draws and changed the structure of the prizes. Matthew Scroggs worked out what effect this would have on how much you would win. His conclusion was perhaps unsurprising: In a Saturday draw, the expected winnings from a £2 ticket have dropped from 83p in the old draw to 50p in the new draw.

Dirichlet faceOur final highlight of the year came in December, when our agony uncle, Peter Dirichlet, addressed your Christmas concerns. You can find all the letters to and from Dirichlet here.

Everyone here at Chalkdust HQ wishes you a happy new year! And if your last year hasn’t been as busy as ours, then make starting a maths magazine one of your new year’s resolutions!

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