Why You Should Always Catch the Coin to Make a Toss Fair

When you throw a coin in the air to make a decision, you'd expect the outcome of the toss to be 50-50 whether you catch it or let it land on the ground. But, according to randomness expert Persi Diaconis, that's simply not true. » 2/02/15 8:00am 2/02/15 8:00am

How Computers Handle Negative Numbers (and Sometimes Get It Wrong)

The digital world runs on binary. But while numbers made up of ones and zeroes is easy enough to get your head round, what happens when you need to express a negative number in digital form? » 1/29/15 3:30am 1/29/15 3:30am

How to Win Every Game of Dots and Boxes

So, you want ensure you always win whenever you play the wonderful time-waster that is Dots and Boxes? The secrets, believe it or not, is not to get greedy. » 1/13/15 3:30am 1/13/15 3:30am

Why We Use "X" as the Unknown in Math

For hundreds of years, x has been the go-to symbol for the unknown quantity in mathematical equations. So who started this practice? » 11/11/14 8:40am 11/11/14 8:40am

How Do People Estimate Crowd Sizes?

Although the task of determining how many people attend something as large as say, a political rally or a protest may seem like a daunting, almost impossible undertaking to do with any accuracy, with some basic information, it's actually not that difficult to get reasonably accurate results. » 11/07/14 8:15am 11/07/14 8:15am

The New Fields Medal Winner Was Inspired By a Rubik's Cube

The Field medal is mathematics' answer to the Nobel Prize, and this year's winners have just been announced. Amongst them is Manjul Bhargava, one of the youngest people to be made a full professor at Princeton University, aged 28, whose work is inspired by... the Rubik's Cube? » 8/13/14 8:00am 8/13/14 8:00am

What's the Most Boring Number?

To any good nerd, numbers are inherently interesting, whether they're square, primes, part of the Fibonacci sequence... whatever. But some numbers aren't so special—so what's the most boring one? » 8/12/14 3:00am 8/12/14 3:00am

Mind-twisting short shows that ignorance is bliss

Imagine that you have the ability to know how many times people lied in their life. Or how many days they will live just by looking at a number displayed on the top of their heads. That's the premise of this mind-twisting short film by Robert Hloz: Two people with that rare ability meet randomly on the street. » 7/24/14 11:52am 7/24/14 11:52am

How 911 Became the Emergency Call Number

Before the 1960s, the United States didn't have one universal phone number for Americans to call if they needed help from the police or fire department. Callers simply had to know the phone number for each department in the area they were currently in. » 7/07/14 8:15am 7/07/14 8:15am

Why Do Some People Hate Math So Much?

Some people gobble up algebra and calculus like their life depended on it; others would rather poke pins into their eyes than solve a simultaneous equation. But why is that? » 1/21/14 3:30am 1/21/14 3:30am

The sum of 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + ... until infinity is somehow -1/12

Here's a fun little brain wrinkle pinch for all you non-math people out there (that should be everyone in the world*): the sum of all natural numbers, from one to infinity, is not a ridiculously big number like you would expect but actually just -1/12. Yes, the sum of every number from one to infinity is some weird… » 1/16/14 7:18pm 1/16/14 7:18pm

You've Never Seen Pi Look So Interesting in So Many Ways

Martin Krzywinski is an artist. No, wait, he's a mathematician. Actually, scratch that: he's both, and he can make the number Pi look insanely beautiful. » 1/03/14 6:58am 1/03/14 6:58am

Why Times and Timezones Still Confuse the Hell Out of Developers

There have been no end of time and calendar mess-ups in software over the years, and they still seem to keep happening. So why is it that times and timezones still confuse the hell out of developers? » 12/31/13 4:37am 12/31/13 4:37am

The Math Behind the NSA's Email Hacks

We're all outraged by the NSA's invasions of privacy, sure—but we don't perhaps understand exactly how it managed it. This video explains the maths behind the agency's surveillance. » 12/23/13 4:20am 12/23/13 4:20am

When Did There Become Too Many Books to Read in One Lifetime?

We've all done it: stood in a library, looking around, we've been confronted by the fact that there are way, way too many books in existence for us to ever read. But when in history did that happen? » 12/20/13 7:37am 12/20/13 7:37am

Polynesian People Were Using Binary 600 Years Ago

Binary lies at the heart of our technological lives: those strings of ones and zeroes are fundamental to the way all our digital devices function. But while the invention of binary is usually credited to German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz in the 18th Century, it turns out the Polynesians were using it as far back… » 12/17/13 10:00am 12/17/13 10:00am

The Math Hidden in Futurama

You might just watch Futurama and chuckle deeply to yourself—as you should!—but if you study it a little more closely, you'll find that it's stuffed full of numbers and math. » 11/28/13 4:00pm 11/28/13 4:00pm