On Tuesday, I attended a Maths Promoters Network event at De Morgan House at which Marcus du Sautoy gave a talk on public engagement with mathematics. This talk was a very personal one on Marcus’ experience of dealing with the media and was very interesting. An interesting point was Marcus’ belief that it was valuable to accept requests for silly faux-mathematical stories from the media if (and only if) a serious mathematical message could be attached.
Marcus was keen to emphasise the importance of mathematical research alongside maths communication and shared the quote from David Hilbert:
“A mathematical theory is not to be considered complete until you have made it so clear that you can explain it to the first man [or woman] whom you meet on the street.”
Overnight there was an earth quake. Oblivious, I managed to sleep through this, though plenty of people have talked about it today. There are seismologists scrambling to measure the quake and reports are giving values on the logarithmic Richter Scale. The suggestion that this quake was caused by an old fault in the East Midlands reactivating will need to be investigated. At the same time, insurance companies are working to respond to claims from customers who were affected and reports include the estimated cost of the earthquake to the country. Lots of mathematics going on today, then. The BBC have a good round up on UK earthquakes and the cost of the earthquake.
Despite the earthquake being centred around Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, on my arrival in London this morning the headline on the newspaper stand was “QUAKE HITS LONDON”. Shocking!
I was in London to attend the IMA Executive Board, where I presented my ideas for the University Liaison work in a report. I am much relieved to have received the kind words and encouragement of the members of Executive Board and feel much more confident of my plans. I will resist the urge to quip some suggestion that my work will be a shake up of similar proportions!
During my travels I will be videoing people telling jokes… for better or worse! You can view these on YouTube. At the moment the inaugural videos are Pete Green and Frank Howarth, undergraduate students at the University of Manchester. Pete tells some jokes and Frank gives some chat up lines.
The work I am doing as University Liaison Officer received funding from a bequest of £20,000 from Clement W. Jones. This is gratefully noted, along with a short biography of Professor Jones in a piece in the latest issue of Mathematics Today and on the IMA website.
On Wednesday night I attended a talk by Robin Wilson at Gresham College on mathematical puzzles. Gresham have videoed the talk and made it available online: “A Millennium of Mathematical Puzzles”, as well as a large number of other talks of mathematical and other interest available from the same site.
Plus don’t forget you can attend the events live too.
On Wednesday I visited the School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences (CMS) at the University of Greenwich at the invitation of Noel-Ann Bradshaw, who amongst many other roles is involved with the Mathsoc at Greenwich and with the British Society for the History of Mathematics. I also spent time with Tony Mann, Head of Department and others. I had an interesting and useful day at Greenwich, which has a pleasant campus (pictured).
Noel-Ann and Tony are trying to engage students through maths history and run a Facebook group “Who invented mathematics?”
In the evening on Tuesday I attended a talk by Liz Henning of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) to the Lancashire and North West Branch of the IMA at Manchester Metropolitan University. This was an interesting talk on school teaching of mathematics and provoked a fairly lively discussion. More events from the IMA Lancs and NW Branch are available through the branch website.
During the talk I noted down the following quote Liz gave from the Non Statutory Guidance 1989:
“Mathematics provides a way of viewing and making sense of the world…and to tackle a range of practical tasks and real life problems.”