### Schools minister Nick Gibb refuses to answer 'what is 8 x 9?' on TV

Hosts of Good Morning Britain quiz minister overseeing new numeracy tests for children Nick Gibb said he had learned ‘never to answer these kinds of questions on live television’. Photograph: Alastair Johnstone / SWNS.com for the Guardian The minister responsible for new times table tests for primary pupils in England has refused on television to…

### Times table tests to be trialled in primary schools in March

Teachers’ leaders express concern about test that becomes mandatory in England in 2020 Ministers hope the on-screen test for eight- and nine-year-olds will improve numeracy. Photograph: Ian Shaw/Alamy Tests to check whether eight- and nine-year-olds know their times tables will be trialled in some primary schools in England next month before being rolled out nationally.…

### Did you solve it? The joy of grids

Alex Bellos’s Monday puzzle The solutions to today’s puzzles On the grid: a scene from 1982 film Tron. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/DISNEY On my puzzle blog earlier today I set you the following three problems about this grid: A polygon is a shape where each side is made from a straight line. Draw a polygon in the…

### Can you solve it? The joy of grids

Alex Bellos’s Monday puzzle Dot-to-dot puzzles that hit the spot Part of the poster for TRON, the joyous 1982 film set in a grid.Photograph: Everett Collection / Rex Feature Hi guzzlers, Today, three challenges using this grid of 16 dots: 1. A polygon is a shape where each side is made from a straight line.…

### Mathematicians work to expand their new pictorial mathematical language into other areas

An illustration of the project is pictured in Lyman Building at Harvard University. Credit: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer A picture is worth 1,000 words, the saying goes, but a group of Harvard-based scientists is hoping that it may also be worth the same number of equations. Pictorial laws appear to unify ideas from disparate, interdisciplinary…

### 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…