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OpenLearn Live: 2nd October 2015

Updated Friday, 2nd October 2015

Two mathematicians who threw shapes, Brexit, canals -a collection of free learning through the day.

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OpenLearn Live makes the links between the worlds we live in, and the worlds of learning and research. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Yesterday, we met some 19th Century Tory Trades Unionists, and discovered why wallabies are being harmed by light pollution

See the full collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

The noise made by Peeple

The plans for a person-rating app called Peeple are a concern - if they're genuine plans. Ansgar Koene explains why:

The site also states that only those who have joined the app and agreed to the terms and conditions can see the information it contains. But combined with the previous statement that looks a lot like someone else can create a profile for you, without your consent, which you cannot see without joining the app. It sounds almost like a way of pressurising people into joining. A cynic might interpret this as a shrewd strategy to promote rapid growth in the number of registered users for the app, which will make it more appealing to advertisers and investors.

Read Do people need Peeple?

How can the NHS beat the bullies?

Like many large organisations, some parts of the NHS have problems with bullying. Elizabeth Cotton explains how the service should react - and the advice would work for other businesses, too:

Another important dimension to bullying is what happens in the mind of the victim when the bully launches their attack. One of the reasons why bullies get under our skin is because they enlist our internal bullies: the voices inside our heads that actually agree with the external bullies. In the case of health and social care workers, this internal voice can efficiently disorient us and undermine our self-confidence.

Read can the NHS solve its bullying problem?

Who will lead he No team?

As the European Union referendum gets ever closer, campaigners for the Brexit are jostling for the leadership role:

In essence, the two groups represent the two choices open to campaigners. They could focus on mobilising decided eurosceptics or seek to convince undecided people to vote for a Brexit.

Farage is the poster-boy of the eurosceptic movement in the UK (and beyond). He speaks truth to power, says it like it is and all the rest. As a communicator and as a personality, he is unsurpassed on either side of the Brexit debate. However, he is also a highly divisive figure: just as he fires up and motivates those who like his ideas, so too does he rile and motivate those who oppose them.

Elliott and Cummings could argue that there’s little point in getting your vote out, if you’re also getting the opposition’s vote out too. If enough people are riled into voting to stay in the EU by Farage’s rhetoric, the whole game could be up. They would instead suggest that it’s better to try and change people’s minds rather than focusing on getting existing eurosceptics out to vote. And there is evidence to support that approach.

Read Who will lead Britain out?

Listen over "lunch": A canal history

It's a little late for lunch, perhaps, but maybe you could have an early supper or something. Either way, today we're recommending a nine-part history of the Regents Canal in London. If you've been enjoying our series Canals: The Making of a Nation, you might find these talks by the author Robert Philpotts adds more depth to the subject.

Listen to The Regent's Canal: Audio History


It's happening all over again, as we do a quick dip into some of the posts you might have missed this week:

Part time, full heart: Alicia Boole Stott and Marjorie Rice

This week, we've been celebrating the achievements of people who have done amazing things alongside their full-time job. So far, we've met:

Today, we're rounding off with two women who threw shapes - they both made huge contributions to geometry, despite never having had any formal mathematical education.

First, Alicia Boole Stott. She was taught mathematics by her mother, Mary Boole, who was a firm believer that it was never too soon to learn geometry. By 1889, Alicia was living in Liverpool, married to an actuary,Walter Stott; working as a secretary and raising a family. This life didn't entirely inspire her - her lot was describedas "a life of drudgery, rearing [...] two children on a very small income" - but she found release in maths. She produced card models of the six regular polytropes. She coined the word "polytrope" herself, and discovered a knack for visualing shapes in four dimensions. Here, her lack of formal training helped her; she could take a leap against the rules because she hadn't been told there were rules. Working with Pieter Schoute, she published two papers on her discoveries - and although modest, relishedd the work:

I have not done anything more interesting than staining very shabby floors and such like homehold things for some time; but last night I received by post a M.S. of 70 very closely written pages containing an analytical counterpart of my last geometrical paper. Of course I must read it. It is the second attempt and was only written because I did not like the first but I am such a duffer at analytical work anyhow that I don't suppose I shall like this very much better.

If Alicia is the amateur geometry champion of the first half of the 20th Century, her counterpart in the second half is Marjorie Rice. Again, Rice had no formal mathematical education. She was a homemaker who, reading a copy of Scientific American in 1975, discovered an article about tessellations. The magazine suggested that perhaps all the tessellatings pentagons had been discovered.

chiral 3-isohedral coloring. Monohedral convex pentagonal tiling, 3-isohedrally colored Creative commons image Icon Tomruen under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license

Rice set to work - developing her own notation for pentagons - and over the next two years, she found four new pentagons shapes that would tile a flat surface. In perhaps the greatest accolade to someone working in her field, her pentagons form the basis of the tiling in the entrance hall of the Mathematical Association of America.

Read a biography of Alicia Boole Stott

Marjorie Rice's tessellation website

You can achieve amazing things with your spare time. Maybe even complete an OU degree. Find out more at #LovePartTime





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