What is the graph of x to the power x?

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

A tricky question, but one that we can answer by breaking the problem down into simpler cases, solving them, and then putting it all back together. This question is also a favourite with university admissions tutors…

 

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

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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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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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Funbers 4

The number 4 is a symbol of balance and stability: tables and chairs have four legs, as do most animals, and humans have four limbs. We also like to divide things up into fours – four parts of the day, four points on a compass and four seasons for example. And then there’s the four horsemen of the apocalypse, wreaking havoc and causing death and destruction everywhere they tread. Maybe four isn’t so stable after all…

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

Oxplore Live Stream Debate

Would it be better if we all spoke the same language? Live debate with Oxplore – Oxford University’s digital outreach portal. Watch me try to convince some linguists that Maths is indeed a language and also our best bet of communicating with aliens…

Tom Rocks Maths Episode 02

The second live episode of Tom Rocks Maths on Oxide Radio – Oxford University’s student radio station. Featuring aliens, death by duel, Indiana Jones and the weekly maths puzzle for you to solve. Plus music from Rise Against, Good Charlotte and Asking Alexandria…

Funbers Pi

Funbers continues with the number Pi – undoubtedly a mathematician’s favourite food and also a universal constant that is built into the very fabric of the universe… If that sounds like a bold claim be sure to listen below to find out why…

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

BBC Cambridgeshire Interview

Starting from my love of multiplication questions at primary school, I talk about my new role as a maths tutor at the University of Oxford, what a typical day looks like for the Naked Mathematician and give a sneak preview of my upcoming talk at New Scientist Live later this year… Live interview with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Putting flies to sleep with light

Gero Miesenboeck is one of the pioneers of the field of optogenetics – an incredible neurological tool that uses light to activate specific cells in the brain. He is using the technique in fruit flies, which can be put to sleep simply by flashing a red light in their direction. I went to Oxford University to meet Gero and find out why…

  • Optogenetics works by genetically modifying cells in the brain to be activated by light, thus allowing them to be controlled.
  • Gero and his team identified the area of a fly’s brain that causes it to go to sleep and then embedded a light-sensitive gene into DNA of these cells.
  • By shining a red light onto the fly from above, the light penetrates the skull of the fly and acts as the ‘on switch’ to turn on the neurons that cause the fly to go to sleep.
  • This is tested experimentally in Gero’s lab where flies that were previously buzzing around almost instantly stop moving when the red light is turned on and enter a state that demonstrates all of the classical hallmarks of sleep.
  • When the light is turned off the fly begins to instantaneously move once again and returns to its normal behaviour.

 

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

Funbers 3

The number 3 is big in the worlds of literature and religion where most things like to come in threes. We have three musketeers, three Buddhist treasures and three Norse Norns… naturally.

 

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

Glow in the dark corals

I went along to the Royal Society Summer Exhibition to meet coral expert Jorg Wiedenmann and to see his collection of glow in the dark corals…

  • Tropical corals live all over the world including the Great Barrier Reef, the Caribbean and Fiji.
  • The corals glow in a wide range of colours including various shades of green, yellow and red.
  • Corals are in fact animals and belong to the same species group as jellyfish and sea anemones.
  • Corals in a colony will extend their tentacles in unison to capture prey such as tiny crustaceans or little fish and then use stinging cells similar to jellyfish and sea anemones before feeding on them.
  • The sensitivity of corals to changes in their environment means that they are ideal for studying human impact on the climate.
  • Glowing pigments can be used as a fluorescent dye in biomedical research to understand how diseased cells work and to test new drugs.

 

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

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