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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Tom Rocks Maths Episode 01

The first ever episode of Tom Rocks Maths on Oxide Radio – Oxford University’s student radio station. Featuring Pokémon, raising the Titanic with ping-pong balls, punishment by drowning and the weekly maths puzzle for you to solve. Plus music from Blink 182, Billy Talent and A Day To Remember…

Are Electronic Personal Assistants the Future?

Electronic personal assistants, like Siri, have been in our phones for a while, but now they are appearing in our homes too – in items such as speakers and lamps. So the big question is: will we spend all of our time talking to gadgets? I spoke to tech expert and Angel Investor Peter Cowley to find out what they can do…

  • Devices that reply when you talk to them have been around for about 25 years on PCs and moved to smartphones 6 or 7 years ago.
  • Examples of tasks that these devices can complete include: answering questions, playing music or videos, ordering online shopping, controlling items in your home such as lights and thermostats and daily planning of events via calendars and to-do lists.
  • They work on speech recognition and are generally only available in English and German at the moment, being correct around 60% of the time.
  • Geolocation technology will begin to play an important role in the future with advertisements on smartphones reminding us to visit retailers as we pass by, or reminding us that we need to buy a particular item on our shopping list.
  • Future advances need to address the ability of a device to hold a conversation and then we may start using them for teaching children or for keeping the elderly company.

 

 

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

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.

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