Siobhan Roberts

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    How to Teach Science with Sugar and Cream

    High school teachers are bringing ice cream into the lab.

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    An “Infinitely Rich” Mathematician Turns 100

    At the Hotel Parco dei Principi in Rome, in September of 1973, the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős approached his friend Richard Guy with a request. He said, “Guy, veel you have a coffee?” It cost a dollar, a small fortune to a professor of mathematics at the hinterland University of Calgary who was not much […]

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    How to Build a Search Engine for Mathematics

    The surprising power of Neil Sloane’s Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences.

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    The Rube Goldberg Machine That Mastered Keynesian Economics

    While researching my soon-to-be-released biography on John Horton Conway, an iconoclastic and very influential mathematician at Princeton, I organized a research trip to his native England. We visited with Conway’s elder sister, Joan, in Liverpool, and convened a reunion at his alma mater, Cambridge. We met there with a few of his “sum chums,” his co-authors […]

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    This Early Computer Was Based on a Urinal Flush Mechanism

    John Horton Conway, a Fellow of the Royal Society who hails from Princeton via Cambridge, England, is notorious for many things—perhaps most for his promiscuous curiosity and his lifelong love affair with playing all manner of games. He’s also celebrated for his Conway groups in mathematical symmetry, for his surreal numbers, and for inventing cellular […]

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    In Mathematics, Mistakes Aren’t What They Used To Be

    Computers can’t invent, but they’re changing the field anyway.