Priesthood What people may find surprising about Silverman is that aside from his extraordinary work in science, he also takes an interest in religion. He earned a bachelor’s degree in theology from the Southern Theological Education and Training Scheme, and is currently a practising Anglican priest. So what about his views regarding the relationship between science and religion? He says that although he is not always certain about his faith, it remains an influence on everything that he does. However, “any view of religion that doesn’t take into account modern science must be wrong, because the observations of modern science are incontrovertible. They are the world that we live in; they are the world as we have it.” He ends with the comment that “it is not a way of thinking I’ve always had, but it is what makes sense to me. It is part of your whole existence.” Something, we suppose, that could also be said about mathematics and statistics. Nikoleta Kalaydzhieva and TD Dang Niki is a PhD student at University College London, working in analytic number theory. TD is an undergraduate at UCL who actually understands the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale, starring David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and Orson Welles as Le Chiﬀre. @televisionduck (TD)
My least favourite number Numbers are everywhere in maths. Some numbers are great, but many are simply awful. Throughout this issue, we share some of our least favourite numbers. We’d really love to hear about yours! firstname.lastname@example.org, @chalkdustmag or chalkdustmag Send them to us at and you might just see them on our blog!
The golden ratio, ϕ = 1.618... Tom Rivlin
All the ancients revered it. It holds the secret to beauty and art itself. All of nature is based on it. Its proportions are perfection itself. It has magical properties…
Am I doing it right?
…except none of that is true. It’s just half of one plus root five. It’s the solution to a quadratic equation. It’s the limiting ratio of a Fibonacci sequence; the growth factor of a logarithmic spiral. It appears in some places in nature. It appears nowhere in human anatomy. It was used by some classical artists. It has some neat mathematical properties. Whoever runs the golden ratio’s PR department is doing a great job, but the golden ratio needs to get over itself. The hype ruins it. 0/10
A magazine for the mathematically curious