Skip to content

Maths Jam Conference 2013

November 3, 2013

I spent Saturday at the Mathsjam conference in Staffordshire and it’s really hard to get across just how brilliant it was. It’s going to be the source of multiple blog posts over the coming weeks I expect so I’ll keep this one reasonably short.

Colin Wright (@ColinTheMathmo) is the driving force behind the Mathsjam conference and the structure consists of many 5 minutes talks on various aspects of maths. After a group of talks, there’s time for coffee and searching out the people that gave the talks to ask them more about it. It’s a fantastic system and means that if there’s a talk you don’t find particularly interesting, it’s only 5 minutes until the next one, although, to be honest, I think there was something you could get out of every talk.

One of the greatest things for me was being able to put names/twitter handles to actual faces. A non-comprehensive list of people I got to finally meet is:
•Colin Beveridge. (@icecolbeveridge) The co-host of our podcast Wrong, but Useful. We’ve been podcasting for 8 months but this was our first actual meeting. It was great to see him in person.
• Peter Rowlett. (@peterrowlett) The co-host of Math/maths podcast. Peter (and Samuel Hansen) are really the inspiration behind the Wrong but Useful podcast and have done an awful lot to widen my understanding and interest in maths. They probably don’t realise that and it was great to find that Peter is very friendly in real life.
• Christian Perfect. (@christianp) Co-host of the All Squared podcast and regular contributor to math/maths. Again, Christian has widened my thinking of maths quite significantly through his internet presence.
• Katie Steckles. (@stecks) Co-host of All Squared and author of puzzle bombs. Katie is something of a maths communicating expert so it was brilliant seeing her latest creation – a maths themed bake off!
• Matt Parker. (@standupmaths) If you don’t know who Matt is, you really should find out before continuing to read this. As I heard another person say “It’s weird seeing Matt this close. He’s supposed to be on stage or on YouTube.” Matt’s a fantastic maths communicator and helped out with some of the compering.
• Rob Eastaway. (@robeastaway) I was lucky enough to be sat next to Rob and I think it’s fair to say he’s something of a maths communicating legend with his many books and Maths Inspiration talks.
• Colin Wright. (@ColinTheMathmo) I’ve only seen Colin on stage before (juggling) so again, it was nice to be able to actually talk to him. He’s definitely very enthusiastic about maths.

There were many other people there that I didn’t know about before Mathsjam and still some I didn’t get chance to talk to really. Next time I’ll see if I can make the whole two days so I can spend the Saturday evening playing all the brilliant puzzles.

Anyway, I meant to keep this short so I’ll stop here. Future posts will include some actual maths.

In short, it seems that all the people who go to the trouble of sharing their mathematical thinking through the internet are throughly pleasant and engaging in real life.

If you weren’t there this time, I can highly recommend it for next year.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

9 Comments
  1. Adam Atkinson permalink

    In reply to your query elsewhere, the infuriating wooden puzzle was probably what I know as “The Donkey Puzzle”, also known by various other names.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klotski and if you enjoy nastier starting positions,
    http://johnrausch.com/SlidingBlockPuzzles/4×5.htm

  2. Adam Atkinson permalink

    I buy almost all of mine (I now have 20… and yes I do have reason to need that many) from Village Games, Camden Lock, London, though I have occasionally found them elsewhere including T K Maxx. It was also the attached to the front of one of those “part works” magazines once: there was one about puzzles and one week the donkey puzzle was the item.

  3. Adam Atkinson permalink

    The ones in Village Games have the Thai name mentioned on Wikipedia so it could be that’s the best name to use when looking to buy it online.

    • Thanks very much Adam. I have to ask why you need 20?

      • Adam Atkinson permalink

        I run a games and puzzles stand at Pisa University Open Week each year, and the Donkey Puzzle is so infuriating that I need a lot of them to keep up with demand: individual victims often spend a very long time on it.

  4. Ah, that makes sense. Certainly from what I saw, people were reluctant to put it down!

  5. Adam Atkinson permalink

    if you find an online source of decent ones (by which I mean a hole in the base for the square to come out) l’d love to hear. I can’t really continue telling people to visit a particular shop in London to get them forever.

    • I have bought a set online for less than £3 but I don’t think it’s going to be as nice as the ones you have.
      I’ll let you know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: