At The Laborastory National Science Week Edition the Gaussian Ensemble are singing a song they wrote called Gaussian Rhapsody. They have kindly provided an explanation to the maths behind their lyrics. We’ll put the lyrics up here after the show.

Gauss was a mathematician and physicist, who described mathematics as “The Queen of theÂ Sciences” and, being the greatest mathematician of all time, he is known to us as “The PrinceÂ of Mathematicians”.

** Normality & Gaussianity **refer to the familiar bell-curve in statistics, which weÂ call the ‘normal’ or ‘Gaussian’ or ‘Laplacian’ distribution. It appears in science all theÂ time, and indeed in the day-to-day world, because of its unique property that if youÂ add up a lot of unrelated variables then the total is approximately Gaussian (this isÂ called the ‘Central Limit Theorem’). Gauss and Laplace made fundamental discoveriesÂ in the statistics of the normal distribution.

** Woooooah** this stuff really blows our minds.

* Polygons* are 2-dimensional closed shapes with straight edges, like squares,Â trapezoids and hexagons. A ‘regular polygon’ is one where all the angles are the sameÂ and all the edges have the same length.

* Fermat polygons* refers to ‘constructible polygons’, which are regular polygonalsÂ with the number of sides given by a product of Fermat primes and a power of 2. TheÂ Gauss-Wantzel theorem says that these polygons can all be constructed with aÂ compass and a straight piece of something (as long as it’s straight).

A * heptadecagon* is one of these constructible polygons, and Gauss was the first toÂ make one. People had been trying for 2000 years before he finally got it.

* Ceres, Piazzi’s* rock is a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, and it was the firstÂ asteroid to be discovered (probably because it’s the biggest) in 1801 by Piazzi. GaussÂ managed to predict where it would appear after Piazzi lost track of it when it passedÂ behind the sunâto do this he used Kepler’s elliptical orbits, which was inÂ contradiction to Galileo, who believed that the planetry orbits were circular and notÂ elliptical.

A * geodesic *is the shortest path between two points on a curved surface.

A * Danish geodesic* refers to the land survey of Denmark, which Gauss extended toÂ his native Hanover. He undertook the entire enterprise, and spent several years ridingÂ around the countryside. It led him to fundamental mathematical insights intoÂ geometry and curvature.

* Wilhelm, my friend, let’s build a telegraph*, refers to Gauss and Wilhelm WeberÂ building one of the world’s first telegraph systems at their university in Goettingen. ItÂ extended from the institute of physics to the astronomical observatory, a distance ofÂ about 3km.

* Gauss’s Law!* is one of Carl’s greatest contributions. It tells you that the electric orÂ magnetic flux through any three-dimensional space can be easily calculated by knowingÂ how much charge is inside the space.

* Monopoles* are the fundamental units of electric or magnetic charge. For example,Â an electron has a -1 charge, and it is an electric monopole, while a proton has a +1Â electric charge and is also a monopole. A magnetic monopole has just a north or southÂ end, not both. Gauss law for magnets says there are no magnetic monopolesâand soÂ far, nobody has found any.

* Mr. Maxwell, Mr. Maxwell*Â refers to James Clerk Maxwell who listed the fourÂ fundamental laws of electromagnetism that we still use todayâand Gauss’s LawÂ accounts for two of them. So devote half your thanks to Gauss whenever you switch onÂ the toaster.