Mathematics, News

Finally, a new pentagon shape that tiles in a plane

All these pentagons are identical. The coloring helps identify the three groups that arrange to form a tilled plane. Image: Casey Mann

Both bathroom decorators and mathematicians have a reason to rejoice (how often does that happen?). Using a computer algorithm, a group of mathematicians at the University of Washington Bothell discovered the 15th kind of pentagon that can tile in a plane. The 14th was discovered in 1985 by mathematician Rolf Stein, while the previous five before were proven by Majorie Rice, a housewife from San Diego.

Mathematics, News, Psychology

Is there really a mathematical formula that predicts happy relationships?

Love equation

In a recent TED talk, Hannah Fry outlines a mathematical formula that predicts long-lasting relationships. In her recent book, The Mathematics of Love, she discusses the findings of psychologist John Gottman who studied hundreds of couples over many years to find out what sets apart the happy couples from the miserable. Gottman than enlisted the help of a mathematician who correlated all the data the psychologists gathered and came up with an empirical formula that seems to predict if a couple will be happy together.

Did you know?, Feature Post, Mathematics

If you fold an A4 sheet of paper 103 times its thickness will roughly be the size of the Universe

The folding limiting equation Britney found: L is the minimum possible length of the material, t is material thickness, and n is the number of folds possible in one direction.

Whaaaat? It’s just a matter of math, really. Fold an A4 once and it will be twice as thick, fold it again and it will be four times as thick as it initially was. Turns out, according to Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, if you do this 103 times the sheet’s thickness will be larger than the observable Universe: 93 billion light-years.  To do

Mathematics, Mind & Brain

Struck by Genius: Brain Injury Turns Man into Math Genius

"I see this image in my mind's eye, now in 3-D, every time imagine how my hand moves through space-time."
Credit: Courtesy of Jason Padgett

In 2002, Jason Padgett was brutally attacked outside a karaoke bar, getting a brain concussion and a severe case of PTSD. But this may have actually been the best thing that happened to him – the brain injury turned him into a mathematical genius, and made him see the world differently, through a geometrical lens.

Art, Feature Post, Mathematics

These ‘Fabergé Fractals’ Will Blow Your Mind

All image credits: Tom Beddard.

Whether we see them in math or in real life biology (or architecture, or art), fractals are just awesome. In case you don’t know, a fractal is a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. Basically, a fractal is a similar, never-ending pattern. No matteer how you zoom in or out, you end up with a similar pattern to the one

Mathematics, News

How motivation influences cooperation: would you open the ‘envelope’?


Here’s a question: what’s the difference between actor Sean Penn and the charitable Mother Theresa? Bear with me for a second. Here’s a bit of context: following the onslaught left by Hurricane Katrina, Penn hurried to New Orleans to aid victims. Allegedly has has personally saved 40 people. Today, however, he’s scorned and mocked of because he also brought a camera crew and publicist along for the ride to document his humanitarian effort. Both Mother Theresa and Sean Penn have engaged in what can be described as humanitarian aid, yet one’s seen as a saint, while the other is made fun of. The key difference is motivation and now game theory may finally be able to account for it.

Mathematics, News

Mathematician may have revolutionized the theory of numbers… but nobody understands his proof


Shinichi Mochizuki of Kyoto University, Japan claims he has proven the ABC conjecture, one of the longest standing mysteries of mathematics. However, even though his 500-page paper was published in 2012, no one has managed to understand it. Mochizuki says his fellow mathematicians are failing to get to grips with his work.

Mathematics, News

Languages are being killed by economic growth

Chief Marie Smith Jones, the last speaker of the Eyak language in Alaska, died in 2008 at age 89. Photo: NATALIE FOBES/CORBIS IMAGES

Globalization certainly has its ups: new markets, free trade, travel or economic growth (especially for developing nations). It’s this latter aspect of globalization that might be the dominant factor that’s wiping out languages from the face of the world, according to a study by researchers at University of Cambridge.

Mathematics, News

How one single sheepdog herds a flock of one hundred – mystery solved


Researchers at Swansea University, UK and Uppsala University in Sweden built a mathematical model that explains how one single sheepdog can round up herds made of up to 100 sheep. Their conclusion suggests that the dog needs only to follow two simple mathematical rules.

Mathematics, News

Iranian is the first woman to win prestigious math award


Maryam Mirzakhani, who was born and raised in Iran, has been awarded the highest honour a mathematician can attain: the Fields Medal. It’s one of those moments which will go down in history – for the first time in almos 80 years, a woman has won the Fields Medal (officially known as the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics).