Fifty 5-minute talks, two days, far too much cake to vote on, and half a dozen people trying to show you the ring-on-a-chain-trick (but more on that one later). These are just a few of the highlights of our weekend at the MathsJam Conference.
The conference is now in its sixth year, and brings together maths enthusiasts from across Europe. This year 159 people showed up to share anything they thought was cool in the celebrated lightning talks, table sessions, or over an excellent Sunday roast. Interesting facts we learnt included:
- Traffic jam shockwaves travel backwards at 12mph,
- You can create a magic square from the decimal expansion of 1/19,
- You can measure the area of a scrap of paper with a bicycle.
The first rule of MathsJam is to let you work stuff out for yourself. In this spirit, here are some things for you to try:
- What do you spot in the decimal expansions of 100/9899 and 10100/970299?
- If you flip a coin, is THT or THH more likely to come up first?
After a day full of talks, the evening was filled with games and workshops. The game du jour was Dobble, a spot-the-matching-symbol game which only got mildly violent. Being MathsJam, someone noticed that the symbols could equally validly be replaced by further Dobble cards, producing a Dobbleception loop that was amazing but totally impossible.
Mathematical cake competition
One of the highlights of the weekend was the mathematical cake competition. Which of these delicious mathematical desserts would you have voted for?
The ring-and-chain trick
It would be near impossible to get through a MathsJam weekend without seeing the ring-and-chain trick: Imagine dangling a closed chain up through a metal ring then letting go of the ring. What do you think will happens? Once you’ve thought about it, watch this:
More from Chalkdust
- Did you solve it?
- We have a go at the puzzles in Daniel Griller’s new book
- Win £100 of Maths Gear goodies by solving our famously fiendish crossnumber
- Find out more about the spiral trees on the cover of Issue 09
- More sartorial inquisition for your feet
- Did you solve it?