the weekly newsletter from Dr Ruth Weeks, Headmistress
Maths Inspiration Show
04 December 2015
On Monday 16 November, we visited the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham for the Maths Inspiration Show. The host Helen Pilcher introduced us to three speakers, Colin Wright, Jen Rogers and John Roberts, who spoke to us individually about how they use mathematics in their careers.
We first had a talk from Jennifer Rogers, who studied Mathematics with Statistics at Lancaster University, before going to the University of Warwick to complete her PhD. She is now a researcher at the University of Oxford. She has appeared on TV programmes, such as Long Live Britain and Mystery Map in which she calculated the chance of dying from spontaneous human combustion.As a statistician,her job is to decide whether any differences she sees in data are likely to be just by chance, or whether they are 'statistically significant', which she demonstrated to us in her talk by tossing coins and getting many different probabilities of heads and tails.
Secondly, we had John Roberts, one of the mathematical brains behind various projects, such as the London Eye and the 'Big One' at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. He was also present in Top Gear Series 14 episode 4, in which he calculated the speed required for a car of a certain diameter to turn upside down in a tunnel. He is one of the UK's leading theme park engineers, and during his talk he went into details about how roller coasters are manufactured and how skyscrapers are built to be so tall.
Lastly, we had Colin Wright, who performed a very impressive juggling act. He graduated in Pure Mathematics at Monash University, Melbourne, before going on to get a PhD at Cambridge. Whilst there he learned how to fire-breathe, unicycle and juggle, which he incorporated into his talk. Colin Wright showed us how spotting patterns can help in a surprising number of situations, including the invention of new juggling tricks.
We really enjoyed this afternoon, and after the event, we all felt as if we had learnt something new. We want to thank the Maths Department for providing us this opportunity to listen to the speakers.
Nadia Ismail and Emily Chung (Year 12)