Behold! Further evidence that maths is a thing which popular entertainment can be based on, and not the terrifying subject of horror and difficulty that its stereotype would suggest. Not only do we have a maths-based TV gameshow (now in its second series), and even a maths-based cop drama, but maths is also the topic of a UK-touring comedy show, performed by Aperiodical homie Matt Parker.
We sent Dave Hughes, of the Leeds MathsJam, along as a scout to one of Matt’s recent performances, and here’s what he thought of the show.
If you never thought maths could be made funny, you’ve never seen any of Matt Parker’s shows. Matt’s latest Number Ninja show takes a whirlwind trip through the everyday uses of mathematics in an accessible and fun way. His friendly and approachable personality invites audience participation pretty much all the way through with demonstrations of concepts which may have been previously shrouded in mystery.
This show debunks a number of mathematical myths and shows the audience that maths is not to be feared. You will go away from this show with much to think and talk about. Just how much of everyday life is really down to coincidence? Ever wondered how barcodes work? Who did knit that scarf for Matt? All these questions and more are answered here – it’s designed to be appealing to all – you don’t have to be a complete number-brain to enjoy it!
There are still a couple of dates left on the tour, in Havant (Hampshire) and Barnstaple (Devon). For more details, visit www.standupmaths.com. If you can’t catch him on this run, Matt also does regular shows in London and occasionally tours as part of the excellent Festival of the Spoken Nerd.
I can’t believe I’m writing another “Mathematical topic: THE MUSICAL!” post so soon after the last one.
This time, the New Diorama Theatre is putting on The Universal Machine: a new musical about the life and death of Alan Turing. Here’s the blurb:
The Mathematics of Change is a comic monologue about a Princeton freshman studying mathematics, performed by ‘acclaimed comic monologuist Josh Kornbluth‘. According to Wikipedia, the monologue ‘describes how despite a love for mathematics he “hit the wall” in his freshman classes at Princeton’ and ‘draws parallels between calculus and life’. Ha – parallels. Good one. From the trailer, it looks like the entire performance takes place in front of an increasingly-covered-in-maths lecture theatre blackboard.
Described as an ‘off-Broadway hit’, the show has toured the US playing in universities and theatres, and is set in the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at Berkeley. The show’s site features a trailer as well as a link to buy the DVD.
This is the best video about frequentist statistics I’ve ever seen. Watch and enjoy:
by Jesse Kelly Productions.
Found on youtube’s math blog. If that blog really is automatically generated, I think we need to reject the null hypothesis that Google hasn’t invented strong AI. Am I doing it right? brb, going to watch the video again.
Fresh from success with their maths/comedy tour Your Days Are Numbered: The Mathematics of Death, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker and comic/writer Timandra Harkness have put together a new maths-based comedy show, and this time instead of statistics getting the comedy treatment, it’s engineering. The show, titled ‘Humans v Nature: Engineering FTW’ looks at all the challenges Mother Nature has thrown in our way, like darkness, cold weather, gravity and hay fever, and all the things engineers have come up with to combat them. Also: there will be robots.
Supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the show will preview under various titles at Cheltenham Science Festival, Winchester Science Festival and Cardiff Science Festival before a 10-day run at the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival. Tickets are now on sale, here:
Festival Of The Spoken Nerd, the “comedy night for the insatiably sci-curious” hosted by Helen Arney, Matt Parker and Steve Mould, is going on tour.
Dara O’Briain has written a piece for the Telegraph’s numeracy campaign. Dara, as he explains, has “a deep passion for maths and physics”, having studied mathematical physics at University College, Dublin prior to starting his career in comedy.
Dara writes about maths and “cool”.
I’m often asked to speak about science, in the vain hope that the perceived “cool” of entertainment will somehow rub off onto the science and make it more alluring. Nothing like a heavy, bald 40-year-old to make something “cool”.
Listen. Maths is never going to be “cool”, other than to the sizeable rump of destined-to-love-it-no-matter-how-it’s-presented kids who are like I was at 15.
He argues that maths should be compulsory in schools, like PE, because it is good for pupils, giving both pragmatic – “exercise for the brain” – arguments and philosophical ones. The latter is likely to more attractive here:
Maths is one of the greatest achievements of humanity. It is the common language of science; it has allowed us to drag ourselves from ignorance by creating communal knowledge, which in turn enables us to master our world and to understand our universe. Maths teaches us to spot patterns, to predict behaviour and the steps of an argument. Maths is, above all, a way of approaching problems – stripping things down, extracting the relevant information, and then solving them.
Improving numeracy, Dara says, is more than just enabling people “to be faster at calculating the cost of the weekly shop”, citing the use of statistics in “a world of claim and counterclaim”.
Maths reform campaign: Sum up: you’ll hang on to your knighthood.