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.
You are in a pub. The former maths teacher opposite you is playing with a hexaflexagon; the PhD student next to you is showing the statistician next to her how to pair up the wings on a 4×4×4 Rubik’s cube; and you have just worked out that a square based pyramid made with equilateral triangles (and a square) has twice the volume of a tetrahedron made with the same triangles.
Maybe this sounds too good to be true, but this happens. Monthly. And not just in London: Guildford, Sheffield, Cheltenham, Norwich, Dublin, New York, Bombay, Edinburgh and 28 more towns and cities play host to monthly pub maths.
The initiated will know that I am talking about MathsJam, started in 2008 by stand up mathematician Matt Parker as a place for mathematicians to meet and share puzzles. As everyone brings puzzles along from a wide range of sources, there is always something new and interesting. Continue reading