Monthly Archives: July 2012

Quotation for the week: Robinson

An anecdote about the American number theorist Julia Robinson, which illustrates something about the nature of mathematical research and also something about the relationship between mathematicians and management. Elizabeth Scott, who knew Robinson from their days in graduate school together, … Continue reading

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The artfulness of maps

In that empire, the art of cartography attained such perfection that the map of a single province occupied the entirety of a city, and the map of the empire, the entirety of a province. In time, those unconscionable maps no … Continue reading

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Quotations for the week: Aubrey

John Aubrey’s Brief Lives offers a gossipy and unreliable, but fascinating, peek into the lives of the great and good in late seventeenth-century England. As this was the period when what we now regard as modern science was starting to … Continue reading

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Quotation for the week: Fisher

A rather well-known quotation this week, from one of the secular godfathers of statistical methods: To consult the statistician after an experiment is finished is often merely to ask him to conduct a post mortem examination. He can perhaps say … Continue reading

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They all laughed (2): al-Biruni

In Part 1 we saw how Eratosthenes, working within the ancient Greek mathematical tradition, obtained the first (maybe) (roughly) accurate estimates of the size of the Earth. We now pick up the story almost a thousand years later…

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Solution: game, set and mismatch

For those of you who’ve not worked it out, here’s the explanation of that apparent paradox in the tennis match statistics.

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Quotation for the week: James VI

I had a lecturer at college who specialised in what he called “proof by intimidation”: he would assert something to the class and then stare at us with his eyes bulging madly from their sockets until we all nodded our … Continue reading

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