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Mathematics

The Sausage Catastrophe

Introduction Contrary to what you might expect, this article is not actually about sausages. It is not even about food at all. Instead, the sausage catastrophe is a mathematical phenomenon that occurs when studying the theory of finite sphere packing.  Finite...

The Seven Bridges of Königsberg

Imagine you are taking a stroll around the 18th century Prussian city of Königsberg (currently Kaliningrad, Russia). The river Pregel runs through Königsberg and there are two large islands in this river. The islands are connected to each other and to the mainland by...

Why you haven’t found love yet – the Math edition

Have you ever wondered how many people are out there for you? How many people tick all your boxes? Many of us are searching for ‘the one’, but haven’t found them yet. We are all searching for love, as feeling loved makes us feel less pressure, less alone, less...

Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem

In mathematics, we like proofs. For thousands of years, mathematicians believed that we would always be able to say that a statement is true or false, and we do this by proving it. No one ever questioned whether this was always possible until 1931, when Austrian...

Fractals

In 1904, Swedish mathematician Niels Fabian Helge von Koch discovered a curve with finite area but infinite length. Later, one would call these fractals. We start with an equilateral triangle. On each edge, we find the middle third. On the outside of that middle...

Infinite Series

An infinite series is a sum of infinitely many quantities. Series play a very relevant role in calculus and its generalizations such as functional analysis and discrete mathematics. Since summing infinitely many elements is hard to grasp, a better way to describe an...

How Netflix chooses which movie you watch next.

Different Home pages? We have all been there, scrolling through the Netflix home page while not being able to decide what movie or series to watch. Some movies seem interesting, but not enough to really dedicate your night to them. It is certainly a common issue that...

The moving sofa problem

Mathematics is undeniably beautiful in a certain way, providing us answers to many of life’s complex issues. It finds itself in all aspects of society, and has played a major role for thousands of years. However, despite our deep understanding, there are still many...

The Four-Color Theorem

The Four-Color Theorem is a theorem that has its roots in graph theory. The theorem states that any planar graph can be colored properly with four colors. Here properly colored means that no two vertices of the graph that are connected are colored using the same...

How to read a QR code without your phone

You can see them almost everywhere nowadays: QR codes. They can be used for all kinds of things: showing you the menu in a restaurant, getting wifi and even paying for something via a ‘Tikkie’. The first time I saw such a QR code, I wondered immediately how it works,...

A triangle that changed the world

When you think of mathematics you imagine a sea of numbers, formulae and relationships. This is of course, as we know, quite often the case. However, mathematics hides quite interesting relationships you might have not yet thought of before. One of the most common...

Why all horses have the same colour

What if I told you that all horses have the same colour? And that 2 = 1? And, to top it off, that I could prove it? You would probably say I’m delusional and that my proof must contain a mistake. However, there are proofs that do not contain mistakes which conclude...

Eating your cake the right way

For some reason I always have a hard time making inter-temporal decisions. Should I drink a few more beers tonight, taking into account that I have a lecture at 9 am tomorrow? Should I buy that new piece of clothing or save to accumulate some (possibly negative)...

Are we alone in the Universe?

Since the beginning of civilization, humans have looked up into the sky and wondered whether we are alone in the Universe. Since then our technology has come quite a way and it feels like we can make a better-educated guess to this question. We currently estimate that...

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