Maths in the Media

Math’s seems to be quite popular in the media at the moment, with three great articles printed in the last week or so! I thought I would share them here and provide a short commentary.

The Singular Mind of Terry Tao

The New York Times has published this great (long) article on the life of Field’s Medalist Terence Tao by Gareth Cook (GarethIdeas) The New York Times often seems to publish these kind of long articles, and luckily they have a policy of letting you read 10 articles a month from their website for free! 

I think this article nicely describes the life of a research mathematician, and I particularly like this quote

“The steady state of mathematical research is to be completely stuck. It is a process that Charles Fefferman of Princeton, himself a onetime math prodigy turned Fields medalist, likens to ‘‘playing chess with the devil.’’…”

The article is a very readable account of what it is to be a modern research mathematician, and in it Steven Strogatz sums up maths as a “… conversation with each other over the millennia”, emphasising the connections with mathematical discoveries across the generations.

The New York Times also has a puzzle from Terence Tao here.

John Horton Conway: The Worlds Most Charismatic Mathematician

This article by Siobhan Roberts appeared in the Guardian on Thursday 23rd July is an interesting portrait of the mathematician that Sir Michael Attiyah describes as the “most magical mathematician in the world”. John Conway is famous for his work in the 1970s on symmetry groups. I didn’t realise his commitment to maths education and how much time he spends at maths camps in the university holidays – not many academics would be willing to give up this precious research time. Conway is of course famou for inventing The Game of Life – I will write about this in the future I think, once I have coded it in Python.

This article is fascinating and well worth a read – I will definitely be buying the full book hen it comes out in September.

20 Mathematicians Who Changed the World

Walter Hickey has written this article for Business Insider. It is considerably shorter than the previous two and provides brief (a few lines) information on twenty famous mathematicians. I don’t completely agree with his choices – for instance what about George Boole?!? Who do you think is missing from this list? I’d be interested to know…

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