Pianos, pasta and lollies: the maths of the good life

May 14, 2008

CSIRO mathematician Dr Bob Anderssen knows a thing or two about the good life. He does the maths that makes it good.

Dr Anderssen has used mathematics to improve the drying process of pasta and reduce wastage.

His research has used his knowledge of vibrating strings to improve our understanding of the sound produced by the Stuart & Sons piano manufactured in Newcastle, New South Wales by Piano Australia.

And he has worked on the equations that describe wheat-flour dough rheology — the elastic flow and deformation of dough — to improve the efficiency of mixing wheat-flour dough to make bread and to derive molecular information for the more efficient breeding of new varieties of wheat.

Now, 41 years after being awarded a PhD, Dr Anderssen has received his second doctorate, an honorary Doctor of Science, at La Trobe University in Bendigo.

Dr Anderssen says maths has taken him into areas few people could imagine maths had anything to do with.

“The importance of mathematics is not always obvious,” he said.

“Mathematical approaches, like breaking complex problems down into several simpler ones, can help solve all kinds of problems in a whole range of different areas.”

His recent work deals with pattern formation in plants and its role in genetics and agriculture.

In his speech at La Trobe University to fellow graduates, Dr Anderssen told of the difficulty of mathematically modelling industrial ‘collars’ used to seal lollies into bags without tearing them.

Dr Anderssen is now a Post-Retirement Research Fellow at CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences where he has worked for many years.

He grew up in country Queensland going to school in Brisbane, Bundaberg, Maryborough and Charters Towers, before heading off to the University of Queensland. After a BSc (Hons) and an MSc, Dr Anderssen earned a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Adelaide.

Dr Anderssen’s work illustrates the breadth of applied mathematics. His work has been published in research journals on agriculture, cereal science, mathematics, even brewing.

Source: CSIRO

Explore further: The maths of congestion—springs, strings and traffic jams

Related Stories

NSA winds down once-secret phone-records collection program

6 hours ago

The National Security Agency has begun winding down its collection and storage of American phone records after the Senate failed to agree on a path forward to change or extend the once-secret program ahead of its expiration ...

Pipeline that leaked wasn't equipped with auto shut-off

6 hours ago

The pipeline that leaked thousands of gallons of oil on the California coast was the only pipe of its kind in the county not required to have an automatic shut-off valve because of a court fight nearly three ...

Uber drivers fined in Hungary

7 hours ago

The Hungarian tax authority fined Uber drivers in its first probe against the ride-sharing service which the economy ministry said Saturday "ignores passenger safety" and must be made to follow regulations.

Recommended for you

Top UK scientists warn against EU exit

May 22, 2015

A group of leading British scientists including Nobel-winning geneticist Paul Nurse warned leaving the European Union could threaten research funding, in a letter published in The Times newspaper on Friday.

How we discovered the three revolutions of American pop

May 22, 2015

Dr Matthias Mauch discusses his recent scientific analysis of the "fossil record" of the Billboard charts prompted widespread attention, particularly the findings about the three musical "revolutions" that shaped the musical la ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.