Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss random and pseudorandom numbers. Randomness will be familiar to anybody who’s bought a lottery ticket or shuffled a pack of cards. But there’s also a phenomenon known as pseudo-randomness –numbers which look random but aren’t. So why are these numbers useful and how can they be generated? Melvyn is joined by Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford; Colva Roney-Dougal, Senior Lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews; and Timothy Gowers, Royal Society Research Professor in Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
Tagged with “mathematics” (5)
When writing the Principia Mathematica, Isaac Newton declared his hand on most of the big questions in physics. He outlined the nature of space, explained the motions of the planets and conceived the operation of gravity. He also laid down the law on time declaring:
“Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external.”
For Newton time was absolute and set apart from the universe, but with the theories of Albert Einstein time became more complicated; it could be squeezed and distorted and was different in different places.
Time is integral to our experience of things but we find it very difficult to think about. It may not even exist and yet seems written into the existence of absolutely everything.
Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Chair in the Public Engagement in Science at the University of Surrey
Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University
Ian Stewart, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick
(sometimes, they pull these shows after a week…but there’s a real audio stream available on their site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/rams/inourtime_20081218.ram)
Everything we buy, from books to baked beans, has a product code printed on it. More sophisticated check-digit codes exist on official documents, bank notes and air tickets. What are they for and what do they mean? We take a look at the mathematical structure of these codes and explain their purposes. And in this age of boundless surveillance, are there enough numbers for each of us to have a serial number of our own?
Talk given by Professor John D Barrow FRS
Why is it harder to predict the climate in 2050 than 2020? Tim Harford investigates reports saying the world will cool over the next two decades before global warming resumes. The More or Less team examine a claim that beautiful people have more daughters. And they use maths to decode a Beatles musical mystery.
Episode five of Another Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.
In 2000, the UK government received a windfall of around £23 billion from its auction of third generation (3G) mobile phone licences. This astronomical sum wasn’t the result of corporate bidders "losing their heads", but a careful strategy designed to maximise proceeds for the Treasury.