Mathematical formulas can be found in the arrangement of seeds on a sunflower, the structure of the spirals in the shells of certain marine animals, and the distribution of leaves around a plant stem. These formulas recur in nature from snowflakes to the stripes on a zebra.
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In Egypt, professor Marcus du Sautoy uncovers use of a decimal system based on ten fingers of the hand and discovers that the way we tell the time is based on the Babylonian Base 60 number system. In Greece, he looks at the contributions of some of the giants of mathematics including Plato, Archimedes and Pythagoras, who is credited with beginning the transformation of mathematics from a counting tool into the analytical subject of today.
1/4 • The Story of Maths • Math
Dr Hannah Fry explores the limits of our control, from dangerous miscalculations to creating and spotting fake videos, and questions how far we should be going with our mathematical skills. A gravity-defying BMX stunt kick-starts the debate around trusting the numbers, and launches us into an investigation of just how sure we can be about anything in our messy world. Together with maths comedian Matt Parker, Hannah uses flaming balloons and gigantic slices of melting cheese to get to the bottom of the guesswork used in real world calculations. A visiting drone zips through the corridors of the historic Royal Institution building, introducing the mother of all drones, a human-sized machine that delivers urgent parcels, and we welcome the team designing driverless helicopters and buying up London rooftops to prepare for the future. But these physical challenges are just the beginning of the debate on handing control over to machines. Hannah explores whether human jurors or robots make fairer decisions, and welcomes Atima Lui, who is on a mission to design the most unbiased facial detection software in the world, which will say goodbye to the 'fast track for white people' at automatic passport gates. Hannah dives into the issues around privacy in our modern world, with Glow Up make-up star Tiffany Hunt making a member of the audience invisible to CCTV, while Hannah explores the truth behind cookies and anonymity online. Finally, she delves into the world of fake news, to separate the truth from the lies. Leading deep fake creators team up with the Christmas Lectures to create a television first – a custom-made deep fake video of a child in the audience, highlighting our ability to use maths to warp reality however we please. Hannah ultimately explores who the real winners are, in an escalating arms race of mathematical tricks.
3/3 • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: Secrets and Lies - The Hidden Power of Maths • 2019 • Math
From a bee’s hexagonal honeycomb to the elliptical paths of planets, symmetry has long been recognized as a vital quality of nature. Einstein saw symmetry hidden in the fabric of space and time. The brilliant Emmy Noether proved that symmetry is the mathematical flower of deeply rooted physical law. And today’s theorists are pursuing an even more exotic symmetry that, mathematically speaking, could be nature’s final fundamental symmetry: supersymmetry.
World Science Festival • 2016 • Math
John Hendricks, founder of the Discovery Channel and CuriosityStream, explores the largest numbers in the Universe and describes how the average person might be able to comprehend their scale. How can a normal person understand "quadrillion" in real terms?
6/10 • Curiosity Retreats: 2014 Lectures • 2014 • Math
Kicking off the lectures with a mind-boggling stunt to prove how counterintuitive our gut instincts can be, Hannah launches into a lecture full of daring live experiments and surprising discoveries. From predicting the chance of snow at Christmas to dodging erupting volcanoes with Prof Chris Jackson, Hannah explores whether we really can predict the future. She meets the maths gurus behind Liverpool Football Club's winning streak to spill the beans on how analysing the numbers can give a team an edge in the Premier League, and reveals the tricks to perfecting your Christmas cracker pull to win the prize every time. Hannah also gathers tips from mind-performance coach Dr Michael Gervais, the 'secret weapon' crafting Olympic athletes' lucky mindsets, and the man responsible for Felix Baumgartner's jump from space, when 'first time lucky' meant life or death. Enrolling the help of maths comedian Matt Parker for the pinnacles of the lecture, the duo find order in unruly crowds, and whittle the audience down to the luckiest person in a series of challenges, before finally putting them to the test to prove whether they truly are one in a million. Using a host of maths tricks - from probability to game theory - Hannah discovers if we can in fact make our own luck, and ultimately shares the secrets to help us all lead luckier lives.
1/3 • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: Secrets and Lies - The Hidden Power of Maths • 2019 • Math
By our third year, most of us will have learned to count. Once we know how, it seems as if there would be nothing to stop us counting forever. But, while infinity might seem like an perfectly innocent idea, keep counting and you enter a paradoxical world where nothing is as it seems.