Friday, 31 January 2014

Three in a row

Just because it was how things worked out, three videos went up today across three of our channels…

Magnesium in Water on periodicvideos:

An epic discussion of Stephen Hawking's latest views on Black Holes for sixtysymbols:

And even more epic computerphile video about fonts:

Ruler of the Universe

Introducing The Ruler of the Universe.

A limited edition have been created at the University of Nottingham, where I work with scientists to create Sixty Symbols and Deep Sky Videos (among other things).

Just over 30cm of geeky pleasure

Featuring a cm and a log scale

Professor Mike Merrifield with the prototype

 From the planck scale to the size of the observable universe

The backside features physical constants

My favourite bit a sixtysymbols plug!!!

A health warning!

The rulers have been produced for fun but also to promote the University of Nottingham's excellent School of Physics & Astronomy.

At this stage the plan is to mail them to Year 12 students who have shown an interest in studying physics at Nottingham (via UCAS).

Some will also be handed out to be people visiting the university for open days.

I will try to get my hands on a few for sixtysymbols viewers, but no guarantees.

You could try following Professor Merrifield on Twitter too - maybe he will tell us more when the main batch arrives!?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Supernova in M82

A supernova in "nearby" M82 is one of the closest in recent years.

There are great images everywhere of SN2014J, and we have done a short film for Deep Sky Videos (see embed below).

I emailed UK astrophotographer Nik Szymanek - who features in some of our videos - to ask if he had grabbed an image.

Despite some cloudy nights, he managed to get this one:

Another friend of ours (and a world-class imager) is Pete Lawrence (of green flash fame).

Again, the supernova was not a priority for Pete, but he did manage to grab this image:

Here's the video we put on Deep Sky Videos a day or two after the news broke:

Some great stuff about the supernova can be found here.

Thursday, 16 January 2014


It was almost inevitable, after days of mind-numbing animation, that I would make a mistake in my recent Knight's Tour video

And indeeed I made an error showing the path of magic knight's tour, making a mis-step over the final few moves… 61-62-63-64.

This one, from the video, is wrong (it is legitimate tour, but not quite magic):

And this one is right (I think):

Each column and row should add to 260.

Here are some great resources from people who really know there stuff when it cmes to Knight's Tours…

Some good knight's tour links:
Great overview by Ben Hill and Kevin Tostado:
Notes and huge resource by George Jelliss:
On using "ants" to find tours:
Good stuff on magic knight's tours:
On the number of knight's tours:

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Thanks for the messages


Dr Tony Padilla has written his own response - read it here.

And here is a New York Times article on the video.

(And see Terry Tao's blog on this topic and analytic continuation, etc)

This is a general response to people who have messaged and emailed about our 1+2+3 video… Trying to cover a few general points rather than reply to everyone individually!

1. Firstly, thank you for taking the time to message and (in most cases) being so polite and constructive. It is great that the Numberphile audience is so passionate.

2. I think many people have not watched the second, more detailed video. I would suggest it before firing off a lengthy email.

3. For those taking issue with 1-1+1-1 etc, I would also suggest watching our video on Grandi's Series.

4. The concepts in these videos include some more obscure techniques, such as Analytical Continuation and Ramanujan Summation. It is worth reading about them.

5. There is a Wikipedia article on 1+2+3+4. Check it out.

6. Numberphile is not mathematics text book.  In a short video for a popular audience you should not expect the level of detail and background explanation possible in a tome that is hundreds of pages long. Also some topics covered in the videos may involve numbers in our lives without necessarily being mathematical!

7. These are unscripted interviews. There's little point getting upset about imprecise or layman's language… I would hate to change that informal and spontaneous format. I know some of you have a PhD is mathematics and know this stuff back-to-front… But spare a thought for those who do not.

8. We often look at some advanced, obscure and controversial topics. There's no denying that some physicists do use this -1/12 result, whatever you may think of it.

DR TONY PADILLA (featured in the videos) has written a further article - here is a link.


9. On the topic of Divergent Series, the Wikipedia article is very good and I'm also advised that Chapter XIII of Konrad Knopp's book "Theory and Application of Infinite Sequences and Series" is excellent if you can find it.

10. You should NEVER disregard what your teachers or professors tell you (especially if they are setting yours tests and exams) - but it can be fun hearing what professional people are doing and the techniques they use?

11. Apparently this play - A Disappearing Number - is partly based on the result. I'm told it's quite good.

Most importantly just remember, it is a YouTube video. It is supposed to be fun and thought-provoking. Don't get upset.

Many people send very long and detailed emails… I really appreciate this but please bear in mind that a) I cannot answer them all and b) I am not a professional mathematician (though many of the interview subjects are).

A great place to leave your comments, ideas and arguments is in the YouTube comments where other people will see them, and maybe share their own views.

(An aptly-named meeting room at YouTube offices)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

"Astounding Result"

The latest Numberphile video is about the sum of 1+2+3+4 all the way to infinity.

The proof is surprising (and a bit controversial, judging by the viewer comments):

I filmed this with Dr Tony Padilla from the University of Nottingham

There's a second video (currently unlisted) in which Profesor Ed Copeland proves the same thing in a different way.

This second video also has extra footage cut from the original with Tony!

I always find it fun to see how many people follow links from the main video (which as gone to all the usual subscribers) and watch the "hidden extras".