Our Year 13 Maths students attended the Florence Nightingale Day at Lancaster University yesterday. The aim of the day was to promote Mathematics and Statistics and especially the participation of women in those subjects. The day was aimed especially at female students but was open to male students too. While Florence Nightingale is well-known for her medical work as a nurse, she was also a pioneer in Statistics, especially in the use of visualisation of statistical data.
The event comprised talks by prominent female mathematicians, a maths quiz and opportunities for informal discussions with current students at Lancaster. A summary of the talks is below.
Yeah, But is it Significant by Dr Jen Rodgers
You've just tossed a coin ten times and eight of them were heads. Crystal Palace win their next five games of the Premiership season. In clinical trials for a new treatment for chronic headaches, 40% get better within 24 hours. But so what, sometimes these things happen just by chance, right? As a statistician, it is Jen's job to decide whether any differences she sees in data are likely to be just by chance or whether they are 'statistically significant'. But how much evidence do you need before you can say that what you see is significant? And what does statistical significance even mean?
To Infinity and Beyond by Dr Katie Chicot
The infinitely large and the infinitely small are mind-blowing concepts that have helped mathematicians to solve some very real, and finite, problems. Katie explored the mysteries and misconceptions of infinity, from ancient puzzles to some of the very latest mathematical research. She also looked at the link between Maths and computer animation.
Geometry in 1, 2, 3, 4, 17 and 1.26 dimensions by Dr Martina Balagovic
Martina talked about how to define dimension, starting from the fact that we all have some intuitive idea of what it is. Most of us would agree about which geometric objects are 1, 2, and which are 3 dimensional. She then discussed how to explore that intuitive idea and arrive at a precise definition of dimension which allows us to easily manipulate similar objects of any dimension. She then looked at its limitations and possible generalisations of such definitions - what if the geometric object is curved? What if it is very spiky, like a fractal?
The speakers delivered subjects which were both challenging and inspirational and the students thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to expand their minds and see the world from a new perspective.