RI Maths Master Class

Three City girls from Year 12 were invited to attend a maths master class at the Royal Institute on the 1st of July 2011. There were three lectures and one maths competition in this action packed day.

The first lecture was on mechanics—it gave an overview of modelling physical systems. I particularly enjoyed looking at pendulum systems. There was a practical experiment during which a volunteer from the audience was honoured to have the opportunity to sit on the same swing where many esteemed, world-leading maths researchers had sat before her to demonstrate mathematics lectures.

One lecture discussed the links between mathematics and (artistic) perspective. My favourite part of this lecture was when we used the properties of the vanishing point to construct a mathematical optical illusion. Seven very different looking cuboids, drawn on paper, had sides endowed with vanishing point properties. If the cuboids were viewed from a distinct position, then they all looked exactly the same size to our naked eye—intriguing! Is there more than one position from which we can view this picture, and all the cuboids look the same size? We used the geometry of spheres and geodesic lines to prove that there is not. I really enjoyed the proof, and have posted this question (with a picture of the cuboids and the full proof) on the maths notice board outside B7 for anyone who wants to check it out.

The third lecturer, a professor from Warwick university, gave a talk entitled ‘Mathematical Networks’. I felt that the talk outlined the links between maths and biology. Genetic inheritance was discussed in a mathematical sense. We looked at some ways of graphically representing speciation. Darwin’s finches are not an example of speciation, but we discussed them, and discussed the conditions under which the finches might become different species. The animal instincts section of this talk was fun.

There was one team maths challenge for which City entered Yingxue Shang, Jess Baker and Sheila Subbiah. Unfortunately, City did not win, but we had great fun puzzling over the problems, and really enjoyed the day.

Sheila Subbiah, Year 12