The Function Room

10 Episodes

By: GoLoud

A podcast about the big numbers, the hard sums, the mathematics that defines, runs, shapes, changes, begins, ends, every things our lives and the world around us. Hosted by Colm O'Regan. An award-winning radio broadcaster, comedian, novelist and it turns out lapsed engineer who is trying to feel useful again. Each episode sheds light on a tiny corner of a giant subject with entertaining guests and accessible talk.

48 Object Lesson

My guest is Katie Steckles, Mathematician, presenter and communicator. She has written seven books about mathematics, hosts the brilliant Mathemetical Objects podcast where she and her co presenter Peter Rowlatt discuss with their guests, very ordinary objects, and sometimes weird ones, and the mathematics behind and because of that object.

The kind of podcast I would love to have made if i were cleverer and had thought of it. It's a very interesting chat about the arbelos, kalaidocycles, bringing the stories of mathematics to light, the skill of not knowing what you are doing, Euclid's brother, Pythagoras's...

47 Body to Body to Body with Dr Matt Kenzie

Matt Kenzie is one of the Science advisors on the hit Netflix show Three Body Problem.

The show and the book is about what happens when aliens want to say hi. Aliens called the San Ti, from a planet in a system of three Suns orbiting each other. They are a three body problem and chaos ensues for the San-Ti.

3BP is made by Weiss and Benioff, so we talk about Game of Thrones naturally, the three body problem, nano-slicing, quantum tunnelling and just how close to life the life of the phd student is...

46 Census Sensibility with Dr Jessica Coyne.

This week in the function room, Census Sensibility with . A glimpse into the work of Ireland's Central Statistic office, the CSO with Statistician Jess Coyne. Yes it's been a little while since the last one. The Easter break and childminding and whatnot intervened and I took a count and there wasn't enough hours in the day. But I'm back now and this time we're talking about what questions you ask and how you ask them to get the numbers that represent what's going on in a country.

45 Empire of the Sum a history of the pocket calculator

Another episode title Im jealous of becuase I didn't pick it, it's the work of Keith Houston a writer and software engineer who has made a habit of writing about things that are there in plain sight. He has written about the history of punctuation, a book about the book and last year a book about the history of the pocket calculator.

There's lots of interesting nuggets in this episode including how an ant counts, who counts with their genitals, the unlikely role a Tea company played in making calculators, what happens when there's an actual bug...

44 (Replay) Algorithm and Blues with Cathy O'Neill

My first replay! Given what we've been hearing about Google and their Gemini code disaster and bias and all sorts, time to revisit one of my favourite episodes, with Cathy O'Neil author of Weapons of Math destruction and has a company that audits algorithms.

At some stage in a futurstic world when you're in trouble with the Algo Cops you'll wish you listened to Cathy.

Eagle-eyed or maybe that should be bat-eared listeners may note that I used to do a lot more preamble with the podcast and lean more heavily on my daughters for...

43 Potential Energy - the Mathematics of Energy Modelling

This week my guest is Hannah Daly, Professor of Sustainable Energy at University College Cork. It's the third of a trilogy about energy - a sort of trilogy there was another episode in between (a sort of Rogue One of maths/energy episodes)
While the other two talk about where we get energy -magical molecules- or store them -stone batteries- this one focuses on working out how much we'll need using mathematical models.

42 That's So Derivative - Mathematics at the Movies with John Fardy

My guest is John Fardy, presenter of Newstalk's Radio (and GoLoud's) movie show ScreenTime. He has watched a lot of movies which means, statistically he's seen a lot of mathematics in movies. Therefore a lot of tall blackboards, a lot of troubled geniuses who struggle to talk to people but speak to numbers with ease, a lot of running around with pieces of paper that have the Eureka moment on them. We chat about his favourite mathematical movies and also what movies would we like to see made.

41 Re: Volts with David Roberts

A look at some of the stories behind the massive sums of an energy revolution.

My guest is David Volts, energy journalist and writer of the Volts newsletter and host of the volts podcast. After Catherine Sheridan's H2 Oh! last week, this is the second of what looks to be an inadvertent energy trilogy. (Or enilogy or trinergy. No doubt that's been trademarked already)

David Roberts has been writing and talking for years about the challenges but also the incredibly cool stuff happening in the biggest equation the world has ever seen: The terrajoules of...

40 H2 Oh! with Catherine Sheridan

Catherine Sheridan, an engineer and systems thinker who after 20 years working on water, roads, energy is focussed on a tiny powerful magic little molecule: Hydrogen.

We talk 5th year Physics experiments, making the world a fairer place, why the poetry of Robert Graves and the short stories of David Foster Wallace can teach us about the maths of molecules, why we need silver shrapnel rather than silver bullets, a little plug for mygug a magic egg made in cork that turns your food waste into heat and why we need to start hiring carbon accountants.


39 There's Been a Breakthrough with TJ Hegarty.

Function Room 39 There's Been a Breakthrough with TJ Hegarty.

TJ Hegarty is the founder of Breakthrough Maths an online maths tutoring company based in Ireland. We talk about small farmers, not letting your father down, wanting to sell butter giving up in the Far East, changing your mind and deciding to give up your job and not sell butter in the Far East, semantic memory, off the grid tutors and where he wants his next breakthrough to be.

Warning: This episode contains strong elements of Corkness