### A newly discovered prime number makes its debut

The distribution of prime numbers from 1 to 76,800, from left to right and top to bottom. A black pixel means that the number is first, while a white pixel means that it is not. Credit: Wikipedia, CC BY On December 26, 2017, J. Pace, G. Woltman, S. Kurowski, A. Blosser, and their co-authors announced…

### Did you solve it? The puzzle of the red and green hats

Alex Bellos’s Monday puzzle The answer to today’s headwear conundrum Sue Ellen Cooper, founder of the Red Hat Society at the Red Hat Society Imperium store in Fullerton, Calif. Photograph: Damian Dovarganes/AP Earlier today in this puzzle blog I set you the following puzzle: A box contains two red hats and three green hats. Azalea,…

### Method to visualize hidden statistical structures in environmental data

Huang Huang (left) and Ying Sun have developed a method for visualizing the spatio-temporal covariance properties of a dataset, which will help make sense of environmental data. Credit: KAUST Prediction of climate and weather relies on statistical models that can capture variability at one location over time as well as the relationship with other geographical…

### Detecting tsunamis

Credit: Cardiff University Mathematicians have devised a way of calculating the size of a tsunami and its destructive force well in advance of it making landfall by measuring fast-moving underwater sound waves, opening up the possibility of a real-time early warning system. The sound waves, known as acoustic gravity waves (AGWs), are naturally occurring and…

### Modern math sheds new light on long-standing debate about Viking-age Ireland conflict

Credit: Coventry University Modern mathematical techniques – similar to those used to analyse social-networking websites – have allowed academics to shed new light on a centuries old debate surrounding the Viking age in Ireland and the famous battle of Clontarf in 1014. The widespread view among the public is that the battle was the climax…

### How to avoid a sucker bet – with a little help from maths

A Friend in Need (1903). Credit: Cassius Marcellus Coolidge Sitting in a bar, you start chatting to a man who issues you a challenge. He hands you five red and two black cards. After shuffling, you lay them on the bar, face down. He bets you that you cannot turn over three red cards. And…

### The Fields Medal fallacy: Why this math prize should return to its roots

Credit: CC0 Public Domain The Fields Medal, whose origins date back to the 1930s, will be issued again this year in August to up to four of the world’s most accomplished mathematicians under the age of 40. In a commentary for Nature, Michael Barany, a Society of Fellows post-doctoral fellow in history at Dartmouth, proposes…

### Learning through play is plane easy | Letters

Lin Friend on getting her early-years class to play airports; maths is fun, says Karl Sabbagh Children playing pure mathematics, alias chess, with Russian grandmaster and former world champion Garry Kasparov. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images I was an early years teacher for most of my career (Letters, 16 January). One afternoon our new head who was…

### Math can predict how cancer cells evolve

Cancer cells. Credit: Dr. Cecil Fox, National Cancer Institute Applied mathematics can be a powerful tool in helping predict the genesis and evolution of different types of cancers, a study from the University of Waterloo has found. The study used a form of mathematical analysis called evolutionary dynamics to look at how malignant mutations evolve…

### Why do we need to know about prime numbers with millions of digits?

Credit: Shutterstock Prime numbers are more than just numbers that can only be divided by themselves and one. They are a mathematical mystery, the secrets of which mathematicians have been trying to uncover ever since Euclid proved that they have no end. An ongoing project – the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search – which aims…