maths news: from around the globe The Current Sudoku Craze might be just what is needed to 'revive interest in mathematics'. MORE Astronomers and the country's tele-communications industry are at loggerheads over plans to ad a 'leap second' to the end of this year.. MORE This year the smartest Canadian mathematics students competed in the 46th International Mathematical Olympiad held in Merida , Mexico. MORE Play the number puzzle from Japan that's sweeping the nation. There's a new sudoku puzzle every month! PLAY NOW

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 Issue 16 - Dec 2005 Apparently mattress flipping is a chore that confuses many people, as they never really know if they are 'doing it right' But now we have the maths!...Or do we? Companies that manufacture mattresses, generally recommend that you flip or turn your mattress every so often so that it wears evenly and you get the longest possible life from it. When broken down to a formulaic exercise, it becomes apparent that there are in fact only four possible combinations of head and foot, top and bottom mattress flipping that can be performed to ensure even wearing. In the ideal world there would be a maneuver you could execute each time you flip your mattress which after four repetitions would mean that all four combinations would have been used. Brian Hayes, writing in the September-October 2005 issue of American Scientist calls this mythical combination a mathematical 'golden rule'. Unfortunately for the world's house wives / husbands he also proclaims that no such golden rule exists. Mathematically, there are four ways to rotate a mattress so that it ends up aligned with the bed. Hayes uses the symbols I for the Identity rotation (wait until next week) and R, P, Y for the nautical terms Roll, Pitch and Yaw. Image courtesy Brian Hayes. His argument runs as follows: no matter how creatively you manipulate your mattress, once it's back on the bed you will have performed one of the four operations I, R, P, Y shown in the figure. Each of these operations has the property that if you repeat it, you end up where you started. So you will have missed two of the configurations. Source: Article:Tony Phillips' Take on Math in the Media Maths In Media Website   page (4) page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | credits
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