I couldn’t call myself a mathematician if I didn’t celebrate Pi Day. Let’s take a moment to appreciate this mathematical constant for… staying constant. Today’s hero came by a hair’s breadth of being changed to 3.2.
Since ancient times mathematicians had been trying to “square the circle”, so given a circle construct a square with the same area, using just a compass and straightedge. Unfortunately for all these fame-seeking mathematicians and amateurs, in 1882 the task was proven impossible. And the culprit was… π.
To square the circle we’d have to construct a square root of π. However, a German mathematician Carl Louis Ferdinand von Lindemann proved that π is a transcendental number, which means it’s not a root of any polynomial with rational coefficients.
In a quiet corner of the Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication, on the third floor of the Sherfield Building, lies The Janus Bookmarks. But what even are The Janus Bookmarks?
Rewind almost five months ago. Our first session of the course was in full swing and we were tasked with writing a list of words we associate with science. We began with the words familiar to us from scientific practice: experiment, process, evidence, research… But as soon as we had exhausted these words and their synonyms, we discovered new words: funding, insecurity, power, hierarchical…It became clear to us that we had delved deeper into what we felt scientific culture was like.
At Imperial College London there is a wealth of extracurricular activities to get involved in. From ultimate frisbee to windsurfing, algorithmic trading to whisky; there is certainly a club for everyone! One activity unique to the Science Communication Unit that I have been involved in is the publication I, Science.
What is I, Science?
I, Science is a science publication run by students of the MSc Science Communication and Science Media Production courses here at Imperial. As well as producing an award-winning magazine three times a year, I, Science also has a website with regular news updates, features, reviews of exhibitions around London and a weekly radio show, broadcast on ICRadio.
Applications for 2019 entry to the Science Communication Unit are open and will remain so until the 26th of February. For those interested in the courses on offer at the unit, here is an insight into a day of an MSc Science Communication student.
Tuesday 15th January
08:30 The alarm goes off and the day begins. Whilst having my breakfast I browse through The Conversation’s latest articles, an independent news publication which I recently discovered. It sources articles from the academic and research community and is written to engage the public. You are encouraged to keep up-to-date with science (and general) news whilst in the Science Communication Unit at Imperial and I find reading earlier in the day works for me.
Can you believe the time for New Year’s resolutions has come again? Maybe this year you can add to the traditional “I’ll eat healthily”, “I’ll stop smoking” and “I’ll hit the gym regularly” a new one: “I’ll look at statistics carefully”. You can start with these five simple tips.
- Reported averages might be meaningless
An arithmetic mean (sum of all values divided by the number of values), often reported as the average, in fact doesn’t say much about the average value.
Imagine you’re describing humans to extraterrestrial visitors. How many legs does an average person have? Slightly less than two.
Studying for a masters degree in science communication is a very different experience to studying for my undergraduate degree in maths and physics. Perhaps the greatest difference is in the amount of reading I now do. In addition to the weekly readings set for each module, which are mainly academic articles, you are strongly encouraged to immerse yourself in literature of every kind. This can range from popular science books to biographies, journal articles to science journalism, books about feminism to books about philosophy. Lots of books you’ll need for the course are available in the campus libraries and most journal articles can be readily accessed online through the library search.
My first term at Imperial has drawn to a close, and what better way to summarise my last few months than through the songs of one of the most-loved bands to have ever existed; ABBA.
I Have A Dream
I had a dream, and I am now living it. Two years ago I realised, whilst studying for my undergraduate degree in Maths and Physics at the University of Warwick, that although I enjoyed the science I was learning, my passion wasn’t to delve into further research, but to share my enthusiasm for the subject with others. This led me to Imperial College’s Masters course in science communication.