Mathematics is like marmite: either you love it or hate it. Most people who hate it do so because ‘it’s too hard’ or ask ‘what’s the point’, while those who love it tend to be those who use the subject in the workplace or are studying it. Will mathematics always be like this, or is there a way to change the perception of maths and make it more fun and appealing?
MathsWorldUK has a plan to develop a museum dedicated to mathematics in the UK. The idea behind this is to provide the public with a chance to see how mathematics is used within our society, and experience the discoveries mathematicians have made – for themselves.
The Science Museum in London have created a Facebook timeline of Alan Turing’s life and events afterwards. It’s an excellent use of the new Timeline feature – you can scroll up and down the timeline from Turing’s birth to the current day, which contains plenty on his codebreaking and work with early computers as well as more mundane things like his schooling and the invention of the very first chess-playing computer program. Appropriately, his tragic death is a small footnote to a fascinating life, just a couple of lines. Scrolling back up towards the present, you can see how Turing’s reputation was restored and commemorated, leading up to 2012, the Alan Turing Year.
The Telegraph numeracy campaign has a review of Intersections, an exhibition available at The Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum and at the Royal Society from 5 April to 20 June 2012, which “throws new light on the often overlooked common ground of art and maths”.
The article writes about Henry Moore, who drew inspiration from the Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum while a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1920s.
What particularly fired Moore’s artistic imagination in this gallery was the collection of 19th-century “ruled surface models” – a rather opaque name for what are arrangements of strings, pulled taut between either wood or metal plates, which can then be adjusted to create complex three-dimensional shapes with exotic names like conoid, ellipsoid and cylindroid. They were built – primarily in a workshop in Munich – in an effort to make real for students of pure mathematics, as well as trainee engineers and architects, geometric forms that could otherwise only be expressed in abstract equations.