TV maths legend and UCL-based mathematician Hannah Fry has been awarded this year’s IMA/LMS Christopher Zeeman Medal, which aims to recognise and acknowledge the contributions of mathematicians involved in promoting mathematics to the public and engaging with the public in mathematics in the UK.
Named after the late Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman FRS, whose Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on mathematics in 1978 were a shining example and led to the development of their mathematics and engineering Masterclass programme, the medal will be awarded at a ceremony to take place in 2019, where Dr Fry will also give a lecture.
From the official announcement/citation:
Hannah Fry’s dedication in promoting mathematics to the widest possible public has not only done untold good for the subject, but has provided a powerful role model for mathematicians, most especially female ones, making mathematics feel more relevant, more humorous and most of all more human. Her spectacular success in an otherwise notoriously difficult endeavour may be ascribed to a unique and enviable set of characteristics. First, she has an uncanny instinct for spotting mathematics that will readily engage the public, and then of constructing the perfect context and using it to convey profound mathematical ideas that might otherwise appear dry. Second, she is effortlessly able to transcend audience boundaries and make mathematics both accessible and “cool” to an enormous range of hard-to-convince onlookers. Finally, Hannah has a tremendous capacity for her sheer hard work: the breadth and range of activities that she undertakes, the number of separate media appearances to which she commits, and the widely disparate audiences and age groups that she is able to reach are all eloquent testament to her ability and commitment. Perhaps her most significant achievement is to have inspired a generation of girls in a way that has not been done before.
Hannah Fry awarded 2018 Zeeman Medal, on the LMS website
More information about the Christopher Zeeman Medal award, on the LMS website
Medal citation (PDF)
Here’s a round-up of some of the news from this month.
Never-ending Turing centenary, part XLVI
The Alan Turing centenary shows no signs of abating.
First of all, there’s a marvellous new art installation under Paddington Bridge in London, in memory of Turing. There’s also a theatre piece called Breaking the Code, showing at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre until 19th November.
Secondly, work continues to introduce legislation in the UK pardoning all gay men who were convicted of crimes related to homosexuality, in the same way Alan was a few years ago. Ministers said they were ‘committed’ to getting the law passed, but in an emotional session the bill was “talked out” by minister Sam Gyimah, meaning it wasn’t voted on.
LMS wins the first Royal Society Athena prize
The London Mathematical Society (LMS) has been honoured this autumn by receiving the first Royal Society Athena Prize to recognise its advancement of diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) within the mathematical community. The prize was awarded in a ceremony at the Royal Society’s annual diversity conference on 31 October.
Royal Society press release
Fourth Christopher Zeeman medal goes to Rob Eastaway
Mathematician, author and friend of the site Rob Eastaway has received the 2016 Christopher Zeeman medal, awarded to recognise and acknowledge the contributions of mathematicians involved in promoting mathematics to the public and engaging with the public in mathematics in the UK.
There will be an award lecture taking place on 22 March 2017, and details will be announced in Mathematics Today and the LMS Newsletter.
IMA website article on the award
Rob Eastaway’s citation (PDF)
Sir Christopher at the Warwick Mathematics Institute in December 2009. Photo by Nicholas Jackson.
Last weekend mathematician Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman passed away. A giant of mathematics research, he worked in geometry, topology, knot theory and singularity theory, and was also a great populariser of mathematics. He gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1978 – not only was this the first time the lectures had been on the subject of mathematics, it was also the start of the Ri’s Mathematics Masterclass series which still runs all over the UK.
He was the 63rd president of the London Mathematical Society (1986-88) and founded the Mathematics Department and Mathematics Research Centre at the then-new University of Warwick in 1964. Zeeman was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1975, and was awarded the Society’s Faraday Medal in 1988. Zeeman was a hugely popular lecturer, and supervised nearly 30 doctoral students.
In September 2006, the LMS and IMA awarded him the David Crighton medal for his long and distinguished service to mathematics and the mathematical community. The LMS/IMA’s Christopher Zeeman Medal for Communication of Mathematics is awarded in his honour.
He will be sadly missed.
via @SusanMOakes on Twitter
Sir Christopher Zeeman FRS (1925-2016), on the Warwick Mathematics Institute website
To celebrate Christopher Zeeman’s 90th birthday and their own 150th, the London Mathematical Society have opened an online archive of Sir Christopher’s work.
Maths hero Christopher Zeeman will turn 90 in February. Normally when a mathematician reaches a big round number of years, there’ll be a celebratory day of lectures or even a small book. The LMS has decided to take things even further by setting up a website to collect people’s birthday wishes, as well as personal stories and photos, for the Z-man (as he’s known in downtown Warwick). They’ll all be collected into a book and presented to him at the launch of the LMS’s new online archive.
So if you want to say happy birthday to Sir Christopher, go to the Zeeman Turns 90 website.
via The London Maths Society on Twitter.
The Christopher Zeeman Medal for the Promotion of Mathematics to the Public for 2014 has been awarded to Professor Marcus du Sautoy of the University of Oxford.
It’s been in the news this week that the Royal Institution is having financial trouble, and is considering selling its London headquarters at Albemarle Street. The organisation has done a great deal for the popularisation of mathematics over the years, from including mathematics in its series of annual Christmas Lectures (delivered by Christopher Zeeman in 1978, by Ian Stewart in 1997 and Marcus Du Sautoy in 2006) as well as running an excellent series of mathematics and engineering masterclasses for primary and secondary schools, since 1981. They also have a dedicated maths team, who post maths resources on the Ri website.
Professor Sir Harry Kroto, a Nobel laureate in chemistry, has started a blog called “Save the Ri” and posted a highly outraged open letter calling on interested parties to “make it clear to the Government and others in positions of responsibility that we are outraged by the decision to put the premises up for sale”. He’s also posted a statement outlining the situation, and indicating his support of the ‘Save 21 Albemarle Street’ campaign, on Facebook and Twitter.
UPDATE: MP Valerie Vaz has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament about this, although it currently only has 9 signatures. There’s also an e-petition, calling for the government to purchase the building and let the Ri stay there permanently.