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Can we talk maths in public and get away with it? Chris Budd.

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Presentation on theme: "Can we talk maths in public and get away with it? Chris Budd."— Presentation transcript:

1 Can we talk maths in public and get away with it? Chris Budd

2 A common scenario You meet someone at a party and (foolishly) Tell them you are a mathematician Their immediate reaction is to … Panic Leave quickly Tell you that.. Mathematics is completely useless Mathematicians are souless geeks All mathematicians are mad!

3 In response you can … Deny that you are a mathematician Not go to any more parties Agree that mathematicians are evil or …. Say that The modern world would not exist without maths With maths you can save lives Maths lies at the heart of art and music Mathematicians organise great parties

4 We dont just need to do this at parties! Most people dont realise how important maths is! It is essential that we convince others otherwise we will have no funding and no students!!! Young people and their parents and teachers Politicians and industry Research Councils!!!! Talk will: provide some motivation, describe some activities and indicate how you can get involved

5 So.. How do we get the message across that maths is important, fun, beautiful, powerful, challenging, all around us and central to civilisation? Why is it so hard to do this? What maths can we tell everyone about? What is being done? What works? How can you get involved?

6 Lets face it part of the problem is obvious … Mathematicians have often been our own worst enemies, thinking that maths is best kept as useless as possible and communicating its power is a poor substitute for proving theorems … the RAF and HODs often support this view! Maths isnt as easy to talk about as sex and violence (see later) Maths genuinely is hard and requires thought The media often makes fun of maths or simply doesnt understand it!

7 Things that I have found to have worked Starting with an application relevant to everyones lives and then showing the maths involved Surprising your audience! …. Maths is magic! Linking maths to real people … all maths was invented by someone! Not being afraid to show the audience a real formula!!! Using techniques from stand up comedians!

8 Example one: Why maths is useful! Ways that maths has changed the modern world Maxwell: Electromagnetism … radio, TV, radar, mobile phones Google Error correcting codes Galois Matrices, eigenvalues

9 Mathematicians invented the computer


11 Weather forecasting Navier-Stokes equations

12 Example 2: Mathematicians save lives! Florence Nightingale Radon 1917

13 Mathematics can look inside you Modern CAT scanner CAT scanners work by casting many shadows with X-rays and using maths to assemble these into a picture: Sudoku Also used to X-ray mummies Detect land mines

14 Some musical notes sound better when played together than others The notes C and G (a perfect 5 th ) The notes C and F (a perfect 4th) The notes C and E (a major 3 rd ) The octave C to C Example 3: Mathematicians have soul

15 Reason was discovered by Pythagoras Length of strings giving C and G, C and E, C and F were in simple fractional proportions C:C … 2/1 C:G … 3/2 C:F … 4/3 C:E … 5/4

16 Pythagoras invented the Just Diatonic Scale.. Sequence of notes with frequencies in simple fractional proportions

17 Problem: Keyboard instruments could only be tuned for one key Mathematicians invented a new Well Tempered scale with all note frequencies in the same proportion a geometric progression ratio: which works well in all keys … J.S. Bach

18 What is being done?

19 Mathematicians can be great communicators and it is possible to communicate a lot of good maths without getting sunk in technicalities Some examples of maths champions: Christopher Zeeman … Books, radio, TV, RI Ian Stewart … Books, radio, TV, RI Marcus du Sautoy … Books, radio, TV, RI, fashion.. Dr Maths.. News column, Maths in the Mall Kjartan Poskitt.. Murderous maths Robin Wilson.. Books, radio, talks David Acheson.. Books and talks Rob Eastaway.. Books, puzzles, shows David Spiegelhalter.. Risk show, talks, media

20 Maths Masterclasses.. How everyone can get involved Saturday morning classes for young people Mixture of talk and workshops Based in a university, linked to local schools Huge variety of topics eg. Mazes*, codes*, deep sea diving, dancing * Involve sex and violence! RI Classes founded by Christopher Zeeman

21 Other ways to get involved Direct engagement with schools.. Widening participation MOTIVATE video conferences Writing text books INTERNET … Plus Maths, Cipher Challenge, MMP, NRICH Maths Inspiration (Rob Eastaway)

22 Science fairs Traditionally maths is under represented at fairs Eg. Cheltenham.. Only one maths event! But the British Science Festival now has a number of maths events.. 2009 Maths of Origami Bath Taps Into Science … 1/3 of exhibits are maths

23 Involving Undergraduates Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme UAS: Simon Singh Bath Maths Communicators: 15 Students do a Masterclass, take part in Bath Taps, take a school lesson and do a written activity All for degree credit MMG, HE-STEM

24 What works? Almost anything, provided it is done with energy, enthusiasm and commitment

25 What doesnt Being too technical.. Steer clear of Sobolev spaces Not being technical enough.. Dont be afraid to stretch and challenge your audience.. Young people love puzzles Talking about it rather than doing it Just do it.. If youre not doing it then youre not doing it!

26 How to get involved.. Basically just go for it.. Its great fun and brings great rewards Some organisations to team up with HE-STEM … Michael Grove RI : Maths Masterclasses … Sara Santos MMP/MOTIVATE … Jenny Gage STEMNET LMS (Holgate), IMA (Popular lecturers) Or come to the IMA Conference in June and take part in the factor


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