Mathematics gets absolutely everywhere. It is even generating the text you are reading right now. It can be used to describe the universe as we know it and it is helping to push the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding even further. Have a look at the following chapter to see what you can find out about mathematics.
Rollover wordcloud to see more info.
The Human Genome Project.
Research into genetics has lead to many new developments including The Human
Genome Project and genetic engineering. The Human Genome Project was begun
in 1990 by James Watson one of the discoverers of DNA* and was completed
The Human Genome Project was an international project dedicated to mapping the 20 to 25 thousand genes human DNA is made up of.
* DeoxyriboNucleic Acid [now try to say it!]
The Amazing Genome
1.The human genome is made up of 3 billion (3,000,000,000) bases of DNA, split into 23 chromosomes. This information, would fill a stack of paperback books 61 metres high.
2. The human body is made up of 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) cells.
3. There are 1.8 metres of DNA in each of our cells.
4. If all the DNA in the 100 trillion cells of the human body was put end to end it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times.
5. Human DNA is 98 percent identical to chimpanzees.
Research: James Watson. Rosalind Franklin. Francis Crick. Maurice Wilkins.
A gene is a basic instruction, in a sequence of nucleic acid (DNA)
The function of genes is to provide the information needed to make molecules called proteins in cells.
A cell is like a tiny and very complex factory that has all the parts needed to make a copy of itself.
Genes tell cells what to do by telling them which proteins to make and in what amounts.
Genetic engineering, also called biotechnology is what we call altering the 'recipes' of the genetic material which you find in all living things. People have campaigned against genetic engineering and still do. They predicted disaster, but as yet that hasn't happened.
So is genetic engineering okay? Well the science seems to say yes and the medical application of gene therapy, even though the technology is still very new, has been used with some success. It is very useful to have knowledge of how living things are made up, and there have been great discoveries, but we don't yet know everything there is to know about the power of genes.
The nineteenth century naturalist Charles Darwin was the first to realise that all life is governed by this process. Darwin found that creatures did indeed adapt or mutate though he didn't know how because, in his time, people didn't know about genes. It turns out that genes can change. They don't always make perfect copies when a cell divides. Sometimes a mistake is made. This is called a mutation. Most mistakes are disasters - the organism dies. Some are useful and give the creature an advantage which allows it to have babies which are more likely to be successful. But this process is entirely accidental. This slow business of trying new body shapes and styles, some of which work and some of which don't, has been going on for as long as life. Perhaps you know about it. It's called evolution.
In the very early days of modern computing, around 1945 when electronic computers were huge lumbering beasts the size of houses, people realised that they wanted to be able to do much more than crack codes with them, and also not have to build a whole new room just for the hard drive. So thanks to the invention of the transistor in 1948, computers very quickly shrank down to the size of small cars, and then after the microchip was discovered in 1959 they got smaller and smaller still until in 1975 an Altair 8800 could be put on to a desk in your home. In 1980 just under 800 thousand home computers were sold world wide, by the year 2000 that figure had risen to 132 million and continues to rise year on year.
Research: Ada Lovelace, William Shockley, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, Jack Kilby, Alan Turing, Bletchley Park.
Today the average mobile phone has more computing power than the computers that sent men to the moon.
1969 The Apollo Guidance Computer had a 2 MHz CPU, 2KB of memory and 32KB of storage. 2010 the iPhone's CPU runs at 400 MHz and it has, 128MB of memory, and 32GB of storage.
The huge lump on the left is in fact a 1GB RAM module from a late 1970
IBM mainframe. Thirty years later we can fit up to thirty two times the
amount of storage on a standard SD chip like the kind you might find in
your digital camera. Computers have stored data on all sorts of media,
from punch cards and magnetic tape to compact disks and optical drives.
What might the data storage of the future be like?
Molecular Memory. In this method, individual molecules are used to create large arrays of memory bits. Each molecule acts like a switch that can be either in the off or on state, thus representing digital data.
Holographic Data Storage. HDS is, or will be three dimensional, instead of two dimensional, and may have much better data density and transfer speed. It might be able to store as much as one terabyte of data in a device just about half the size of your thumb.
Computer Models have come a very
long way in the past few decades. The most sophisticated ones, called
Global Climate Models, or GCMs, use large, fast (and very expensive)
computers to calculate the behaviour of the air. They see the atmosphere
as adjoining towers of boxes, all of which obey the basic laws of physics.
The computer generated air can interact with the digital ocean, and in
many cases with virtual plants on the Earth’s surface. These models are not perfect…. But there
is one thing that they can do that nothing else can, and that’s
experiments involving the entire planet.
Research: Computer modeling, Climate modeling, Antikythera mechanism, Astrolabe.
Mathematics, the final frontier.
Mathematics gets absolutely everywhere. It’s in everything. It’s generating the text you are reading right now. It can be used to describe the universe as we know it and it is helping to push the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding even further. Some of the most exciting research in modern time is being conducted underground in a huge tunnel. The Large Hadron Collider or LHC is the world's largest particle accelerator. Scientists hope that it will answer some of the most important questions in physics, and deepen our, knowledge of how the universe works and reality is formed.
The Large Hadron Collider
The collider is contained in an underground circular tunnel, with a circumference of 27 kilometres, at a depth ranging from 50 to 175 metres underground. It is a huge feat of engineering that may help us to understand the beginnings of the universe and the fabric of reality itself. It would have been impossible to build without ultra precise mathematical measurements. When the data is collected, it is analysed by some of the worlds fastest computers.
The Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory.
This sounds like Star Trek and it is pretty close. The Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory is a 1000 m square cube of thousands of neutrino detectors buried in the Antarctic ice, and watching for cosmic neutrinos, which are invisible particles traveling at close to the speed of light and are able to pass through solid matter.
What are neutrinos?
Neutrinos are particles so tiny that they can pass through solid matter
[including you and me] without colliding with any molecules and they travel
at close to the speed of light, they have almost no mass, and no electrical
charge, and that makes them very hard to find. They belong to a class of subatomic
particles called Leptons.
There are six fundamental particles classed as Leptons:
- Electron Neutrino
- Muon Neutrino
- Tau Neutrino
One of thousands of Neutrino Detectors like this one are used in the Ice Cube detector.
Click the image above to see an animated Mandelbrot Set [remember this is still mathematics]
Microsoft Excel is a very popular data management system.
Fractals are endlessly repeating patterns that vary according to a set mathematical
formula, a mixture of art and geometry. Fractals are patterns that reveal greater
complexity as they are enlarged A real-life example of fractals is ice crystals
freezing on a glass window. You can see countless variations of the same pattern
emerging in the crystals over time.
Z = Z2 + C is a common fractal form equation.
Research: Benoit Mandelbrot, Julia set, chaos theory.
What is a dataset?
Datasets consist of all of the information gathered during a survey and which needs to be analysed. Some times specialist statistical software is necessary to make sense of large datasets.
Small data files may also be analysed within spreadsheet software such as Excel.
Data can be qualitative or quantitative.
* Quantitative data is numerical information, for example. "This sentence contains 27 letters"
* Qualitative data is descriptive information, for example. "This sentence is too short"
Feature company: Red Redemption. Feature
article: Why make a game about climate change?
Here we are at the cutting edge of 3D computer modeling, game design and data handling, all enabled by our old friend mathematics.
Redemption are a fast growing UK indie games developer dedicated to making
games about making a difference. They have become known for games
tackling issues like climate change - issues with drama, danger and difficult
choices. They produced the award-winning BBC Climate Challenge in 2007, and
are currently developing the global strategy simulation "Fate of the
which was released on the 28th February 2011.
Red Redemption say "For us, it's not just about making good games and good entertainment, it's about making games that are relevant to the world we live in, that challenge how we think and how we play. We are all long time gamers but we wanted to do things a bit differently with out own company: we wanted to make games that tackle tricky subjects we care about."RR's games are:
2. Fun to play entertainment for all the family.
3. Focussed on real-world and non-violent themes.
4. Scientifically accurate.
5. Rewarding: you make discoveries while you play.
Red Redemption have a distinguished Advisory Board including world-leading academics from Oxford University, city financiers, former senior civil servants and social entrepreneurs.
The BBC Climate Challenge Game.
In 2007 the BBC decided a game might be a good introductory route into climate change and some of the issues this creates for governments around the world. The Red Redemption team came up with the award winning Climate Challenge which you can play online.
The Environment Tabs are currently under development
[this section is under development]