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From the archives

Our Violent National Game

The great hockey debate continues

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

Florin Diacu

Florin Diacu is a professor of mathematics at the University of Victoria and author of The Lost Millennium: History’s Timetables under Siege, whose second edition was published in 2011 by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Articles by
Florin Diacu

The Metaphysics of Math

A philosopher asks why it counts to think about numbers September 2014
Every field of human endeavour exists for a reason, but often its origins get lost in the mist of time. Mathematics is no exception. The most ancient mathematical texts that made it to us (from ca. 2000 BC) do not mention how mathematics appeared, although this is not difficult to guess. Keeping track of domestic animals and performing commercial transactions are some of the activities likely responsible for the birth of…

Magic Spheres

The forgotten art of reckoning the heavens April 2013
How does one estimate the size of the Earth? The distance to the Moon? More to the point, how could scientists accomplish these feats at a time when the only available instruments were as simple as those of ancient surgeons: no X-rays, CAT scans or MRIs; just scalpels, spatulas and forceps? Scientists in the ancient…

The Big One

Credible new studies show that British Columbia may be in for the continent’s worst megadisaster July–August 2011
On February 4, 1975, an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck the city of Haicheng in northeast China, killing more than 2,000 people, injuring almost 28,000 and damaging 90 percent of the buildings. In spite of this tragic outcome, the local authorities claimed victory. Six hours before the event, seismologists had warned about the disaster, and most inhabitants stayed…