Last week saw the conclusion of the first commercial crewed space mission, as two American astronauts crashed safely into the sea having successfully visited the ISS in a SpaceX rocket. Whilst they are not the first to make this trip it was undoubtedly a historic moment as the space race expanded into the private sector for the first time.
445 years ago today, a similar investment in exploration was made as King Charles II laid the foundation stone of the Greenwich Royal Observatory, establishing a new scientific institute to meet the increasing demand for advancements in navigation of the seas. Just over 100 years later the research and techniques developed had achieved exactly that: for the first time, sailors could calculate their longitudinal position by observing the moon. It would however be the work in the following 300 years that defined the observatory’s contributions to astronomy and, most notably, the study of time.
Motivations for the SpaceX project aside, many remain optimistic. If the achievements and timelines of previous institutions such as the Royal Observatory are to give any indication of its contributions to science, it is likely that SpaceX may change the world in ways we cannot currently imagine. Regardless, it has provided a much-needed injection of funding into the research and application of science and technology which will no doubt produce some beautiful equations.
Maths in (social) media…
Staying with astronomy, without getting too close this time: understanding some of the mysteries of black holes.
It could have been Cotes.. either way makes it the kind of identity you want on a t-shirt.
Whether it’s the equation or the proof behind it, we can all agree it’s pretty beautiful.
Check out the reviews of Jeannine Atkins' novel, Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math. Released last week, Atkins tells the stories of some inspiring female mathematicians and scientists.
Some mental maths practice (with a bit of help from the Binomial Theorem...)