I can highly recommend Marcus du Sautoy‘s video on the Guardian’s new Newton channel, exploring the world of chance and probability.

The good professor shows how probabilities become counter-intuitive as soon as a modicum of complexity is introduced. We all know that the chance of guessing heads on a coin-flip is one-in-two, and it’s fairly straightforward to show the chance of scooping the National Lottery jackpot is just under one in 14m.

Read the rest of this entry »


June 5, 2009

V. excited by googlelookup, as described here. It basically allows you to perform multiple Google searches and manipulate the results, all within a Google spreadsheet.

A simple example – suppose you want to know the dates of birth of Fermat, Newton, Gauss, Cantor and Dedekind. You could always go to Google and perform five searches. But you could instead create a Google doc (like this one here) – in the columns, you enter the names (cells A2-A6) and in the header row (cell B1) you enter the search term you’re interested in – in this case, “Date of birth”. Read the rest of this entry »