Equations Stripped: Logarithms

Stripping back the most important equations in maths so that everyone can understand…

Logarithms turn multiplications (hard) into additions (much easier) which enabled scientists in the 1600’s to calculate the trajectories of comets and the orbits of the planets around the sun. Nowadays, they are mainly used in Information Theory and Thermodynamics, but still have an important role to play mathematically in helping us to understand trends in experimental data.

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How many ping pong balls would it take to lift the Titanic from the ocean floor?

The answer to the latest question sent in and voted for by YOU.

Lifting the Titanic with ping pong balls was a real suggestion put forward in the 1970’s that needless to say did not happen. Let’s pretend it is possible and work out how many we would need using Archimedes Principle…

 

To vote for the next question that you want answered remember to ‘like’ my Facebook page here.

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BBC News – Maryam Mirzakhani’s Legacy

Live interview on BBC News about the legacy of Iranian Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani who tragically passed away today (July 15th 2017). She was the first female winner of the Fields Medal – the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

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Oxford Alumni Voices

Interview with the University of Oxford alumni team about my mission to popularise maths. You can listen to the full interview here.

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Naked Maths Trailer

Naked Maths is finally here!

Here’s the trailer for the new video series I’m making with the Naked Scientists taking a look at the maths that’s all around us.

 

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How do things become popular?

Do you remember the Mannequin Challenge? What about the Harlem Shake? Or maybe the ice-bucket challenge? Chances are you probably recall at least one of them, and that’s because they all went viral. I decided to find out if there’s any science behind why things become popular… Cue Jonah Berger, Professor of Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the book ‘Contagious’…

  • Our underlying psychology explaining why we share things can be broken down into a framework called STEPPS: Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical value, and Stories.
  • Social currency relates to the idea that the better something makes us look, the more likely we are to share it with others – we like to share positive things.
  • The idea of Public is that the easier something is to see, the easier it is to imitate, for example by ‘following the crowd’.
  • Sometimes people also want to seem unique and so decide to follow the crowd to some extent in order to fit in, but then change a minor detail eg. they buy the same model car but in a different colour.
  • Jonah’s top tip is to try to understand why people do what they do and think about the psychology – why do people talk and share in the first place?

You can listen to the full interview for the Naked Scientists here.

The Next Large Hadron Collider

At the end of May 2017, scientists from all over the world met in Berlin to discuss the successor to the Large Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator at CERN. The new one is called the Future Circular Collider, or FCC, which will be up to three times larger and seven times more powerful than the current LHC aiming to simulate energy levels much closer to those seen during the ‘Big Bang’. I heard about the project from physicist Carsten Welsch at the University of Liverpool…

  • The new FCC aims to give us access to higher energy levels and ultimately take us closer to the conditions seen at the ‘Big Bang’ in order to discover further new particles such as the Higgs Boson.
  • Currently, the performance of the LHC is limited by the technology of magnets, which are needed to bend the particle beam around the 27 kilometre loop. The FCC will need stronger magnets or a larger tunnel.
  • Discoveries from particle physics have led to applications such as the internet, mobile communications and NMR diagnostics in hospitals.
  • The FCC project consists of an international community of academics who are looking into what will be required to build the new machine.
  • 20 years in the future the LHC will come to the end of its lifetime and so we need to act now to engage school kids today to think about a career in science.

 

You can listen to the full interview for the Naked Scientists here.

Funbers 2

Funbers continues with a return to the integers and the number 2. Good and evil, love and hate, light and dark, friends and enemies, we like things that come in pairs – even the great William Shakespeare was a fan! And let’s not forget it takes two to tango…

You can listen to all of the funbers episodes from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and BBC Radio Oxford here.

The Heart of an Athlete

How does repeated exercise impact your heart? To find out I spoke to St George’s University of London heart specialist Sanjay Sharma. He’s the medical doctor for the London Marathon, the England football team and Andy Murray…

  • Professional athletes push themselves to the limits and regularly do more than 10-15 times the recommended amount of daily exercise.
  • Athlete’s heart is a medical condition that involves up to a 20% increase in the thickness of heart muscles and a 10% increase in the size of the cavities in the heart.
  • At rest the heart pumps 5 litres of blood around the body, whereas during exercise this can increase to 25-30 litres.
  • Your heart behaves like any other muscle in your body and will increase or decrease in size depending on your level of fitness.

You can listen to the full interview for the Naked Scientists here.

Funbers – Golden Ratio

Next up in the Funbers series is the Golden Ratio… credited with explaining beautiful architecture, beautiful art and beautiful people. It appears everywhere in nature and may just hold the secret to everlasting beauty…

You can find all of the episodes in the Funbers series with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and BBC Radio Oxford here.

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