These are the show notes for episode 57 of the Travels in a Mathematical World Podcast. 57 is the so-called Grothendieck prime. The story goes that brilliant mathematician Alexandre Grothendieck was asked to name a prime number and gave 57, which is, of course, not prime. This story is used to illustrate how some mathematicians are so used to thinking in the abstract that they struggle with concrete examples. Long time listeners may recall I had a similar problem with the number 9, although I suspect for somewhat more mundane reasons! You can read the story in the AMS Notices and read a biography of Grothendieck at MacTutor.

This episode links with another lecture in the series entitled “History of Maths and x”, for various x. I am no expert on these topics but they interest me and I would like to explain a little of them to you. This time the x is gravity and the lecture covers “Shape of the Cosmos“. Lectures take place at the University of Nottingham. The lecture will be videoed for the web and available for download at History of Maths and x. Lectures are to be accompanied by an article in iSquared Magazine and a companion episode of this podcast containing additional information not in the talk or article.

You can view the talk and find out more through www.historyofmathsandx.co.uk.

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