Imagine you contribute to a science communication blog. You are asked to produce an article to tell the story of the development of an idea in mathematics.
Genre: a pop(ular) science article.
Objective: to inform, interest, and engage the reader.
Audience: a mixed audience comprising the educated general public.
Length: 600 to 700 words.
References: at least three in-text citations.
Preparing your work
First, choose a topic that you are interested in. Some examples of topics are given here:
counter intuitive probability problems (e.g. Monty Hall problem, birthday problem, gambler’s ruin) –description of rational, algebraic, irrational, transcendental numbers (properties and examples) – explanation of different types of infinity (countable, uncountable) – history of estimating pi – history of e –cryptography’s use of prime numbers – Pascale’s triangle – any of the Millennium Problems from the Clay Mathematics Institute
Then, narrow down your chosen broad area to identify a focused mathematics topic or concept that interests you.
Finally, choose one of the story types underneath to frame your focused mathematics topic or concept in order to produce your article.
- The story of how scientists’ understanding of a particular mathematics idea has developed.
- The story of how a mathematics breakthrough came about.
- The story of how a mathematics prize was won (e.g. Fields Medal).
- The story of how a mathematician got something wrong, and how they found a solution to this or moved forwards over time.
- The story of how society’s perception of or belief in a particular mathematics idea has changed over time.
- The story of how a breakthrough in mathematics has led to change or had impact in wider society.
- The story of how a finding in mathematics has led to progress in another science discipline.
- The story of how a particular sub-discipline of mathematics came about.
- The story of how a particular mathematics study or research project has influenced our understanding.