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December '21 Newsletter


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Dear student/parent/customer,

I hope this newsletter finds you all well. In this edition: Winter Leave; Examination Arrangements 2022; The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences; Marie Curie.

Winter Leave

Winter Leave: As usual my availability can be found at pamt.uk/available this now includes the winter break. This winter, like most, there is a reduced availability, but as usual this will be balanced by some students not wanting to have sessions over this period (I know I can't believe it either). Please message with your requirements be they: to cancel sessions until the beginning of the spring term; keep with your usual, but move them from evening to daytime; or, perhaps, have a few extra. Normal timetable returns on Tuesday 10th January 2022.

Examination Arrangements 2022

As is becoming far too common, the COVID-19 pandemic is going to affect 2022's examination arrangements. Some details are appearing from the authorities:

The links are to what has been announced so far. The final details will be with us by 7th February 2022. The examination results days have been set at 18/08/2022 for A level plus other level 3 qualifications, and 25/08/2022 for GCSE plus other level 2 qualifications. A good blog of what is planned can be found at https://blog.pmt.education/what-does-the-dfes-announcement-mean-for-your-childs-exams/ [08/06/2022 update: link no longer available].

The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences

The number fans out there take a look at the The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (OEIS). Neil Sloane, the custodian of the Encyclopedia, seen in several videos on YouTube at Amazing Graphs from Numberphile. One of my favourites is the sequence of squared numbers {0,1,4,9,16,25,36,49,64,81,100,121,144,169,195,225,256, ... } as their differences are the sequence of the odd numbers {1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,16,17,18,19,21,23,25,27,29,31, ...}. Now with over 350,000 sequences the OEIS are continuing the search for more. Can you find one?

Marie Curie

Marie Salomea Skłodowska Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. Her husband, Pierre Curie, was a co-winner on her first Nobel Prize, making them the first ever married couple to win the Nobel Prize and launching the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was, in 1906, the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris.

The physical and societal aspects of the Curies' work contributed to shaping the world of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Cornell University professor L. Pearce Williams observes:

"The result of the Curies' work was epoch-making. Radium's radioactivity was so great that it could not be ignored. It seemed to contradict the principle of the conservation of energy and therefore forced a reconsideration of the foundations of physics. On the experimental level the discovery of radium provided men like Ernest Rutherford with sources of radioactivity with which they could probe the structure of the atom. As a result of Rutherford's experiments with alpha radiation, the nuclear atom was first postulated. In medicine, the radioactivity of radium appeared to offer a means by which cancer could be successfully attacked."

If Curie's work helped overturn established ideas in physics and chemistry, it has had an equally profound effect in the societal sphere. To attain her scientific achievements, she had to overcome barriers, in both her native and her adoptive country, that were placed in her way because she was a woman. This aspect of her life and career is highlighted in Françoise Giroud's Marie Curie: A Life, which emphasizes Curie's role as a feminist precursor.

She was known for her honesty and moderate lifestyle. Having received a small scholarship in 1893, she returned it in 1897 as soon as she began earning her keep. She gave much of her first Nobel Prize money to friends, family, students, and research associates. In an unusual decision, Curie intentionally refrained from patenting the radium-isolation process so that the scientific community could do research unhindered. She insisted that monetary gifts and awards be given to the scientific institutions she was affiliated with rather than to her. She and her husband often refused awards and medals. Albert Einstein reportedly remarked that she was probably the only person who could not be corrupted by fame. (scrapped from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie)

Her legacy continues in the UK with the charity Marie Curie who continue to give care and support for those with terminal illness.

Please message with any questions raised due to issues from this newsletter or any other issues you may have. If you do not wish to continue to receive these newsletters, then please message with your request. Click here for a web version of this newsletter.

All the best,

Michael.

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