mathematics

The great mystery of mathematics is its lack of mystery

The great mystery of mathematics is its lack of mystery

In one sense, there’s less mystery in mathematics than there is in any other human endeavour. In math, we can really understand things, in a deeper way than we ever understand anything else. (When I was younger, I used to reassure myself during suspense movies by silently reciting the proof of some theorem: here, at least, was a certainty that the movie couldn’t touch.) So how is it that many people, notably including mathematicians, feel that there’s something ‘mysterious’ about this least mysterious of subjects? What do they mean?

Why Google wants to think more like you and less like a machine

Why Google wants to think more like you and less like a machine

What does this mean:

wht has Don Trm don nw?

You’ve probably decided the intended question is: “What has Donald Trump done now?”But how did you reach that conclusion? The word fragments could be part of many different words. You even expanded two almost identical fragments – “Don” and “don” – to different words – “Donald” and “done”.

Maths: why many great discoveries would be impossible without it

Maths: why many great discoveries would be impossible without it

Despite the fact that mathematics is often described as the underpinning science, it is often not given enough credit when scientific discoveries are presented. But the contribution of mathematics and statistics is essential and has transformed entire areas of research – many discoveries would not have been possible without it. In fact, as a mathematician, I have contributed to scientific discoveries and provided solutions to problems that biology was yet to solve.

What exactly does ‘instantaneous’ mean?

What exactly does ‘instantaneous’ mean?

How short is an “instant”? Is it a second? A tenth of a second? A microsecond? You might think all of these qualify. What about 100 years? That certainly doesn’t seem like an instant, and to a human being, it isn’t, since we’d be lucky to have a lifespan that long. But to a giant sequoia, say, 100 years is no big deal. And in geological terms it’s practically nothing.

How to crack British intelligence service’s devilish Christmas puzzle

How to crack British intelligence service’s devilish Christmas puzzle

Calling all aspiring spooks. Robert Hannigan, director of Britain’s security and intelligence organisation GCHQ, has included a rather tantalising puzzle with his Christmas card this year. He hopes that it will exercise your grey cells over the holiday period. If you can solve the puzzle, along with the others that it will lead to, you can email the solution to GCHQ (the Government communications headquarters) before January 31. A winner will be drawn from all the correct answers – and doubtless be named to much fanfare. So what do you need to do to be in with a chance?