Questions aren’t the enemy. They’re the ammo.

In grad school, my wife took a class that assigned no homework. The topic was an advanced, hyper-specific area of research—the only plausible problems to give for homework had literally never been solved. Any answer to such a question would have constituted novel research, advancing the field and meriting a publication in a professional journal. The professor assigned no homework for the simple reason that there was no practical homework to assign.

This tickled me. I’d never thought of good questions like a fossil fuel. A nonrenewable resource. Built up over eons and consumed in minutes.


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Wrong But Not Stupid

Math with Bad Drawings

or, How to Call Out Mistakes without Trampling the Mistaken

It was the end of our first day on limits—a deep and slippery concept, the engine of calculus—when Melanie exclaimed, “Wait. Shouldn’t that limit be 4, not 6?”

Nope—it was 6. Melanie’s error suggested that she’d missed the lesson’s most basic truth, an idea that the class had spent the day paraphrasing, analyzing, and shouting in chorus. Talking one-on-one, I could have coached her through the misconception. But hers was a public declaration, in front of the whole room.

Even before the words had left Melanie’s mouth, I could hear the groan welling up among the students, murmured ridicule and the slapping of foreheads soon to follow. They all knew it. She didn’t. From Melanie’s blushing, you could read her self-esteem falling like a mercury thermometer.

And so I found myself confronting one of the teacher’s daily puzzles: what do…

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Come support the PGMathletic team!

Pitch 5, today at 12, the Postgrad Mathletic team will be facing off against arch-rivals ‘Rosa Parked the Bus’!

Looking for their first proper win of the season, the lads will need all the help they can get from the PG Maths Department Ultras!

Also, don’t forget to stay tuned with to the PGMathletic website for all your team news! Featuring the squad page for new Player Photographer Meurig Gallagher, and all-new feature pages such as CP versus DH and PG’s Tips!

PGMathletic Squad PHoto

Tonight: Lord Krebs talk entitled ‘Science and Policy’

As part of the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture series, the University is delighted to welcome Lord Krebs, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, to deliver a talk entitled ‘Science and Policy’.

Lord Krebs is an internationally renowned scientist and Crossbench Peer, who was Chair of both the UK Climate Change Committee and the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology until earlier this year. His previous roles include President of the British Science Association, inaugural chair of the UK’s Food Standards Agency, and head of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council.

With an initial research career in ornithology and behaviour, Lord Krebs has published over 300 scientific papers and co-authored several textbooks including the standard student textbook in his field. He was knighted for services to behavioural ecology in 1999 and appointed to the House of Lords as an independent Crossbench Peer in 2007, where his particular areas of interest include environment, science, education and food. Lord Krebs also holds an Honorary Degree from the University of Birmingham.

This is a free event, click here to register your place.

Industrial CASE studentships for PhD students

The Science and Technology Facilities Council invites applications for its CASE studentships. These provide support for PhD students working on projects that involve joint supervision of the student by a member of staff at an academic or related institution and an employee of a non-academic organisation, such as a UK industrial firm, public sector organisation or charity.

Organisations eligible to receive an STFC studentship quota may act as the academic partner, but not as the non-academic partner. Non-university academic-related partners would need to host the studentship in conjunction with the university where the student would be registered.

During the period of the award, the student is required to spend a period on the premises of the co-operating body. For a three and a half year award, the cumulative period should be no less than nine months. The non-academic partner is required to make a financial contribution to both the student and the project. It must include:

*an annual contribution to the academic research organisation towards the cost of the project of Ł1,550;

*all additional expenses, such as the cost of travel and accommodation incurred as a direct result of attendance at the premises of the non-academic partner;

*a minimum annual contribution to the student of Ł2,760.
Closing date 10 Jul 15 (Forecast)
Deadline information !! Call has not yet been announced by funder, but this is the approximate deadline we expect. Applications due by 4pm. This call is repeated once a year. Please see last year’s website