Thatsmaths

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Pythagoras: the mathematician in The School of Athens, by Raphael, from 1509. Photograph: Creative Commons/Wikimedia

According to Plato, a core of mathematical knowledge, later known as the quadrivium, was essential for an understanding of the universe. He outlined t(...)

From Mallow to Cambridge: Mathematician Robert Murphy

“A brilliant meteor that flared intensely but all too briefly”; this was how Des MacHale described the Cork-born mathematician Robert Murphy in his bi(...)

James Joyce - It is said he wrote Finnegans Wake  to “keep the critics busy for 300 years”. It’s keeping   mathematicians busy too. Photograph: Hulton Getty

Tomorrow we celebrate Bloomsday, the day of action in Ulysses. Most of us regard Joyce’s singular book as a masterpiece, even if we have not read it. (...)

Antique engraved portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, the grand master of structural innovation and invention in music

The numerous connections between mathematics and music have long intrigued practitioners of both. For centuries scholars and musicians have used maths(...)

Short supply: anchovy fisheries, which collapsed in early 1998 when the temperature of the oceans off South America rose dramatically, may be in danger again as El Niño is expected to return this year

In 1997-1998 abnormally high ocean temperatures off South America caused a collapse of the anchovy fisheries. Anchovies are a vital link in the foo(...)

C-3PO: The Star Wars robot – described as a walking humanoid – was one of many robots discussed at a symposium in Izhevsk, east of Moscow, on mechanical and biological systems

The application of mathematics in biology is a flourishing research field. Most living organisms are far too complex to be modelled in their entirety,(...)

Santa Claus is coming: With about a billion houses to visit, and the typical distance between neighbouring houses being 10m, it is estimated that Santa will have to travel 10 million kilometres on Christmas Eve

How far must Santa travel on Christmas Eve? At a broad scale, he visits all the continents. In more detail he travels to every country. Zooming in, he(...)

There is little agreement among experts as to what is the maximum population that the environment can sustain on Earth. Photograph: Getty

The population division of the United Nations marked October 31st, 2011, as the “Day of Seven Billion”. The world population is now above that figure (...)

We live on a spherical Earth, so we cannot travel a straight-line path: we have to stick to the surface of the globe. Photograph: Thinkstock

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This is one of the basic principles of Euclidean geometry. But we live on a spherical Ear(...)

Quessia Dessaless from Rutland National School, Dublin, with a maze illustrating the concept of probability. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

With the new school year beginning, teachers are looking for opportunities to enrich the education of their pupils. Next month the eighth annual Maths(...)

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