Plus podcast – Maths on the Move

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6 reviews
This podcast has
15 episodes
Date created
Last published
Average duration
26 min.
Release period
8 days


Maths on the Move, the podcast from, will bring you the latest news from the world of maths, plus interviews and discussions with leading mathematicians and scientists about the maths that is changing our lives. Hosted by Plus editors Rachel Thomas and Marianne Freiberger.

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The maths and magic of shuffling
We all have our favoured methods of shuffling cards, but most of us don't think any more about it once we've started playing a game. But there's so much more to be discovered! In this podcast mathematician Cheryl Praeger and magician Will Houstoun reveal the maths and magic behind shuffling cards. And as this podcast, first published in March 2021, was the first podcast we produced in collaboration with the Isaac Newton Institute, Dan Aspel also tells us all about the INI! You can watch Cheryl Praeger talk about the mathematics of shuffling in her Kirk Lecture at the INI in 2020. You can be astounded by Will Houstoun's magic, including the amazing trick we mentioned in the podcast, and find out more about his work as magician in residence at the Imperial College London and Royal College of Music Centre for Performance Science, at his website. And you can read all the details behind the maths and magic of shuffling in their Plus articles: The magic of shuffling and The mathematics of shuffling. This podcast was inspired by a talk given by Cheryl Praeger as part of the Groups, representations and applications programme at the Isaac Newton Institute. You can find out more about the maths behind this programme here.
Living Proof: Anita Layton – one of Canada’s most powerful women
In this episode we meet the irrepressible Anita Layton. As well as leading a busy research team, Anita also spends much of her downtime fostering diversity and mentorships throughout her networks, and is professionally engaged across disciplines as distinct as applied mathematics, computer science and the medical sciences. She was also voted one of 2021’s top 100 “Canada’s most powerful women”.   We are very pleased to host this episode of the Living Proof podcast as part of our collaboration with the wonderful  Isaac Newton Institute.  Plus editor, Marianne Freiberger,  joined the INI's Dan Aspel to interview the irrepressible Prof Anita Layton of the University of Waterloo, when she was a guest at INI for a week-long workshop on kinetic theory.  You can find out more about this fascinating area of maths on Plus. Thank you to Dan and the INI for allowing us to host this episode of Living Proof on our podcast.   You can find all the content from our collaboration with the INI here. 00:00 – Introduction 00:58 – Welcome 01:50 – Attending the “Frontiers in kinetic equations for plasmas and collective behaviour” workshop 06:44 – How do you stay on top of multiple fields? (“I don’t always understand every single slide in a talk!”) 12:50 – Fostering diversity in the sciences, connecting mentorships between different generations of female mathematicians 17:30 – Mathematics for “social good”? (“It excites me to do something that has meaning, that is impactful”) 19:16 – A personal history in the sciences, “I told you I don’t have a math degree. Let me tell you why…” 24:00 – Connecting kinetic theory, kidneys, blood flow and more
On the mathematical frontline: Matt Keeling
"We all work with exponential growth and we're really, really used to it, but we are still amazed at how fast things take off at the end." This is epidemiologist Matt Keeling talking about how a disease outbreak can still take you by surprise even if you've been working in the field for 25 years. Matt's team at the University of Warwick has been running one of the main models that have informed UK government on the COVID-19 pandemic. In this podcast Matt tells us about his work on the roadmap out of lockdown, whether the models have been too pessimistic, and what it's been like producing scientific results that carry so much weight. This episode is part of On the mathematical frontline, a special series of the Plus podcast which explores the work of mathematicians grappling with the unprecedented challenge of studying a live pandemic unfolding in front of their eyes.    In this series we interview our colleagues in the JUNIPER modelling consortium, whose research and insights have fed into the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (otherwise known as SPI-M) and the now familiar SAGE - the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies , both of whom advise the UK government on the scientific aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. To find out more about the work of Matt's team on the roadmap out of lockdown, see this article. You can see all of our content related to JUNIPER here.  
Reducing NHS waiting lists in the wake of COVID
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men in the UK and second most for women. During the first lockdown from March 2020, elective cardiac procedures and outpatient consultations were postponed and many appointments have not yet been rescheduled. In addition, those who were suffering from heart conditions did not see their GP or come to hospital. The resulting backlog presents a huge challenge. In this podcast, first published in March 2021, we talk to cardiologist Ramesh Nadarajah and computer scientist Jessica Enright about a meeting at the Newton Gateway to Mathematics, which brought together clinicians and mathematicians to try to tackle the problem. The three-day brainstorming session, part of a programme of activities by the Virtual Forum for Knowledge Exchange in Mathematical Sciences, developed potential solutions that could also help reduce waiting lists for other conditions — and demonstrated the astonishing power mathematics can have even when you least expect it. This podcast, and the accompanying article, were produced as part of our collaboration with the Isaac Newton Institute (INI), which we talked about in our last episode.  You can find out more of our work with the INI here.
Living Proof: Collaborating with the Isaac Newton Institute
Have you every wondered about what goes on behind the scenes of Plus? Find out in this special guest episode!  We are very pleased to be collaborating with the wonderful  Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (INI) in Cambridge. Recently Plus editors Marianne Freiberger and Rachel Thomas appeared on the INI's Living Proof podcast, talking to the INI's communication's manager Dan Aspel.  We talked to Dan about mathematical journalism, spreading a love of numbers, and our new collaboration with the INI. Topics touched upon include our late boss, the wonderful John Barrow, the many joys of being a maths communicator, and the thrill that comes from finding and inspiring audiences with the most unusual of subjects. Thank you to Dan and the INI for allowing us to host this episode of Living Proof on our podcast.   You can find all the content from our collaboration with the INI here. 00:00 – Introduction 00:47 – Welcome 01:30 – A little background about Marianne 04:05 – A little background about Rachel 07:12 – A tribute to John Barrow 08:36 – Choosing communication over research 11:40 – Who is the average +Plus reader? 13:25 – The appeal of +Plus 17:05 – “Maths and hallucinations” (an article with “quite interesting comments”) 22:05 – Collaborating with INI 30:32 – Plans for the future 32:45 – Terrible coffee… but good conversation
New ways of seeing with the INTEGRAL project
It's amazing what you can see now thanks to remote imaging technology! Visiting far away landscapes via satellite images or watching live feeds from a famous street is fun, but remotely gathered images offer exciting opportunities to map and observe the world. The problem is that the vast amount of remotely gathered data now available is useless on its own – we need to have the means to analyse and extract information from those images. This is exactly what the members of the INTEGRAL project, researchers based at the University of Cambridge and researchers and industry partners in India, are working on. This is an innovative collaboration between people collecting remote sensing data – such as satellite images of forests and video from traffic cameras – and researchers developing the technology to analyse those remotely gathered images to answer meaningful questions.   Some of the members of the INTEGRAL team who spoke to us over zoom. From top left: Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb, James Woodcock, Angelica Aviles-Rivero, Saurabh Pandey, Sanjay Bisht, Debmita Bandyopadhyay, Rihuan Ke, David Coomes.   In this podcast we talk to some of the members of the INTEGRAL team about the innovative machine learning approaches they are developing to understand remotely gathered images, and the significant impact these technologies can have on the world. Our thanks to Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb, James Woodcock, Angelica Aviles Rivero, Debmita Bandyopadhyay, Rihuan Ke and David Coomes, all from the University of Cambridge, and to Saurabh Pandey from KritiKal Solutions and Sanjay Bisht from IORA Ecological Solutions, both based in India. You can read more about the INTEGRAL team's work in Seeing traffic through new eyes and about their new AI approaches in Maths in a minute: Semi-supervised machine learning. And you can find much more information about machine learning and image analysis on Plus.
How to predict a changing climate
How do you go about predicting something as complex as the Earth's climate? In this podcast — featuring climate modelling experts Emily Shuckburgh and Chris Budd — we explore what those climate models look like, the uncertainties involved in climate modelling, and also why the predictions need to be taken seriously despite those uncertainties. We also look at the simplest climate model of them all— the energy balance model — and explain the famous butterfly effect in just one minute. Emily Shuckburgh is a mathematician and climate scientist and Director of Cambridge Zero. The podcast features clips from Emily Shuckburgh's talk at the Cambridge Festival in March 2021, which was hosted by the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge. You can watch the full talk here. Chris Budd OBE is a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Bath, who works on climate models. You can read Budd's Plus article about climate modelling here.  
Flying home with quantum physics
In this week's podcast we reach into our archive for a favourite story we first heard back in 2010! The quantum world is usually associated with the weirder end of physics, including strange phenomena like superposition or quantum entanglement, the "spooky action at a distance" as Einstein called it. But it turns out that quantum mechanical processes occur in living systems too. Some species of birds use quantum mechanics to navigate and studying how they do it might actually help us with building quantum computers. Back in 2010 we spoke to the physicists Simon Benjamin and Erik Gauger at the conference Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality at the University of Oxford to find out more. For more information you can read our ridiculously short introduction to some basic quantum mechanics, and the accompanying article for this podcast.   
La La Lab: A tour through maths and music
Although people often talk about the links between maths and music, if you're neither a mathematician nor a musician these links might not be that obvious. In this podcast we get to explore the connection by going on a tour of the La La Lab exhibition with curator Daniel Ramos, talk to Jürgen Richter-Gebert, who created some of the exhibits, and asked Andreas Matt about the work of Imaginary, the group that produced this exhibition. We were lucky enough to visit the La La Lab exhibition in person when it opened in September 2019 as part of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum. You might not be able to visit in person today, but you can still visit the exhibition virtually at Imaginary. You can find out more about maths and music, Fourier analysis, Fibonacci, Manjul Bhargava and the Heidelberg Laureate Forum on Plus. And you can find detailed mathematical explanations of the La La Lab exhibitions in their excellent exhibition booklet. (The image in this podcast is of the Tonnetz exhibit at the La La Lab Exhibition Image © Wanda Domínguez / Imaginary)
On the mathematical frontline: Francesca Scarabel
Like many early career researchers, Francesca Scarabel has moved around the world to take the first steps in her career: from her home in Italy, to Finland for her PhD, to Hungary and Canada for postdoctoral research.  Now she works at the University of Manchester as part of the JUNIPER modelling consortium. We spoke to Francesca about what it's like being part of the mathematical emergency response, the importance of local knowledge, and not being afraid to share your ideas. You can read more about the work Francesca mentions in this podcast in Understanding waning immunity. This podcast was produced as part of our collaboration with the JUNIPER, the Joint UNIversity Pandemic and Epidemic Response modelling consortium.
On the mathematical frontline: Ed Hill
The Mathematical frontline podcast is about the mathematicians who are grappling with the unprecedented challenge of studying a live pandemic unfolding in front of their eyes. In this podcast we are really pleased to talk to Ed Hill, a member of the  modelling consortium from the University of Warwick, where he is also part of the Zeeman Institute for Systems Biology & Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research group (SBIDER). Ed tells us about his journey through the pandemic, his contribution to keeping work places and universities safe, and the importance of pacing yourself.       To read about some of the work Ed mentions in this podcast see the articles Pandemics and psychology and COVID-19 and universities: What do we know? This podcast was produced as part of our collaborations with JUNIPER, the Joint UNIversity Pandemic and Epidemic Response modelling consortium, and the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (INI).  
On the mathematical frontline: Ellen Brooks Pollock and Leon Danon
Like many couples, Ellen Brooks Pollock and Leon Danon, have had to make it through the pandemic juggling lockdowns, child care and work.  But unlike many of us, they have also both been working together on the mathematical front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.   Ellen and Leon are both both from the University of Bristol. The are members of the JUNIPER consortium of modelling groups from across the UK whose research and insights feed into the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (otherwise known as SPI-M) and SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, both of which advise the UK government on the scientific aspects of the pandemic. If you or someone you loved found yourself living alone during the various lockdowns you benefitted directly from Ellen and Leon's work: as we find out in the podcast, it was their work on household bubbling which showed that these support bubbles were safe. We spoke to Ellen and Leon in July 2021 for our special podcast series On the mathematical front line.  The series features epidemiologists whose efforts have been crucial in the fight against the pandemic. They are the people who make sense of the data to estimate things like the R number, and who make the mathematical models that inform (and sometimes do not inform) government policy.  

Podcast Reviews

Read Plus podcast – Maths on the Move podcast reviews

4.5 out of 5
6 reviews
beef supreme 2013/03/10
Math motivation
Good.....please keep them coming!
stmx3 2010/03/05
Wonderful Podcast
A very well done podcast on history and people (and jobs!) in mathematics. Professionally produced. This podcast shows that there is much more to math...
Monstrim 2011/10/18
OK content, bad presenting
This is a podcast I just can't bear listening to. The content is fine, not amazing but interesting. However, the audio quality is most times terrible....


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