For the Love of Numbers

A number-led selection of writings for the truly geeky among us ...

Let Gaia show you our galaxy

Gaia Sky lets you explore our galaxy, the Milky Way.  Gaia Sky is a real-time, 3D, astronomy visualisation software that runs on Windows, Linux and macOS.

Hans Rosling & Gapminder

If you’re keen on numeracy, numbers, and fact-based analysis, you’ll have heard of the death of the great statistician and all-round amazing person, Hans Rosling. Gapminder is a website that highlights some of the work and the work of his team, and is well worth a visit.

A Trip to the Theatre

The Greek Theatre in the Sicilian town of Taormina could, so they say, accommodate 5000 theatre-goers. Could this be true? Let’s do some rough and ready calculations …

Beware Giant Ants! Or maybe not ...

The 1954 horror/science fiction film


featured terrifying giant ants. Could such creatures really exist? Of would the square-cube law defeat them? Read on …

Benford’s Brain-boggling Law

Take a set of numbers collected from “the wild”.  You might take company profits, city population statistics, street numbers or odometer readings.  How many of the numbers in your set start with “1″? how many with “2″? with “3″?, “4″? …

Amazing as it sounds, these leading digits are NOT evenly distributed but follow a pattern (30% “1″s, down to less than 5% “9″s). This pattern is so reliable, it’s been used in fraud detection, to trap companies cooking their books: the invented numbers did not follow Benford’s Law.

Follow the link for a fascinating explanation of why this is so.

Logs: Level-Up your Number Sense

This article about log scales and how to think about them (and how they naturally reflect how we think about big numbers) pretty much nails it, for me. Using log scales is an essential tool in your mental numeracy toolbox.

Thank you, Chalkface blog.

Thank you, too, Vi Hart for your passionate and engaging video on the topic.

The Number Line: A Journey

Wonderful tale by Ben Orlin “Math with Bad Drawings”, of a creature exploring the world of numbers, very much in the spirit of “Flatland”.

Infinite Jest

And then we come to infinity.

Well No.

We don’t come to infinity at all, do we?

Astronomical Numbers

No, literally.

As Douglas Adams said, the universe is big. Really big


You Call That a Number?

It starts with counting: 1, 2, 3 are what the maths guys call the Natural Numbers. From there it gets more and more UN-natural, all the way to imaginary and beyond, to some very weird structures that still get called numbers.

Transfinite etc

Read all about it!

Is That a Big Number? - the book - is now available from all good booksellers.

"This is a fun and riveting book. Written in an accessible and engaging way, it is unputdownable." Frost Magazine

Click here to learn more about it.

Click here for Podcast: Andrew Elliott interviewed for New Books Network.