Yitang Zhang: While working for  University of New Hampshire as a lecturer, Zhang submitted an article to the Annals of Mathematics in 2013 which established the first finite bound on the least gap between consecutive primes that is attained infinitely often

Occasionally, a major mathematical discovery comes from an individual working in isolation, and this gives rise to great surprise. Such an advance was(...)

Phillips’s simulation of a developing unstable wave in the atmosphere. While  at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton he made the first computer simulation of the global climate

Today we benefit greatly from accurate weather forecasts. These are the outcome of a long struggle to advance the science of meteorology. One of the m(...)

 Joseph Fourier’s idea that the Earth’s atmosphere acts like an insulator is the first formulation of what we now call the greenhouse effect. File photograph: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier, French mathematician and physicist, was born in Auxerre, 251 years ago today. He is best known for the mathematical tech(...)

Hokusai’s woodcut The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The wave is estimated at more than 10m in height. In January 2014,  a wave off Killard Point in Co Clare was measured at almost 30m.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, one of the most iconic works of Japanese art, shows a huge breaking wave with foam thrusting forward at its crest, toweri(...)

Sequencing is important in sports: penalty shoot-outs in football, service order in tennis tie-breaks and choice of colour in chess matches. Photograph:  Clive Rose/Getty Images

It is common practice in science to name important advances after the first discoverer or inventor. However, this process often goes awry. A humorous (...)

Cloud computing: we could be walking in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest thinkers. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

A walk on the beach, in the hills or along a river bank provides great opportunities for mathematical reflection. How high is the mountain? How many g(...)

Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the last century, wrote unsolicited letters to three leading mathematicians at Cambridge

Do amateurs ever solve outstanding mathematical problems? Professional mathematicians are aware that almost every new idea they have about a mathemati(...)

This artist’s impression compares the seven planets orbiting the ultra-cool red dwarf star Trappist-1 to the Earth at the same scale.  They are shown to the same scale but not in the correct relative positions. Image: M Kornmesser/ESO

The Pythagoreans believed that the planets generate sounds as they move through the cosmos. The idea of the harmony of the spheres was brought to a hi(...)

One source of randomness is atmospheric noise, the “static” generated by lightning discharges. Photograph: Julian Stratenschulte/EPA

Randomness is a slippery concept, defying precise definition. A simple example of a random series is provided by repeatedly tossing a coin. Assigning (...)

An illustration of Prof James Moriarty in Conan Doyle’s work bears a striking resemblance to a photograph of Prof George Boole (left) and may well have been based on it.

A fascinating parallel between a brilliant mathematician and an arch-villain of crime fiction is drawn in a forthcoming book – New Light on George Boo(...)

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