Where the Laws No Longer Hold

Somehow, I suspect I wouldn’t survive long on the frontier.

Drop me in the American West, circa 1850, and I fear my math-blogging and bad-drawing skills might not carry me far. I need indoor plumbing. I need the rule of law. I need chain coffee shops. I’m not cut out for the frontier.

And yet the frontier is exactly where I found myself the other day, when I came across this formula in the wonderful Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Numbers, by David Wells:


I decided to play around with this product a bit. After all, what are products for, if not playing around?

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Donuts, math, and superdense teleportation of quantum information

Quantum teleportation has been achieved by a number of research teams around the globe since it was first theorized in 1993, but current experimental methods require extensive resources and/or only work successfully a fraction of the time. Now, by taking advantage of the mathematical properties intrinsic to the shape of a donut — or torus, in mathematical terminology — a physicists have made great strides by realizing ‘superdense teleportation.’

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Cakes, Custard and Category Theory: Easy Recipes for Understanding Complex Maths, by Eugenia Cheng

Noel-Ann Bradshaw is inspired by a book with all the right ingredients for explaining a tricky subject.

Apart from alliteration, what on earth do cakes, custard and category theory have in common? As a recent winner of the Best Mathematical Cake prize at MathsJam, the recreational mathematics conference, I feel I am fairly qualified to understand the connections that mathematician Eugenia Cheng illustrates here.

Cheng – the only female category theorist in South Yorkshire, she quips – has written this deliciously lively text with the aim of showing that “mathematics is there to make difficult things easy”. It is a book of two halves: the first explains the mathematical concepts needed to understand category theory, and the second describes the rudiments of category theory itself, a branch of abstract mathematics often described as the “mathematics of mathematics”. She combines these definitions to deduce that “category theory is there to make difficult mathematics easy” – in a neat contrast to the warning in the title of Carl E. Linderholm’s memorably mischievous look at the subject, Mathematics Made Difficult (1972).

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