Monday 9 March 2015

It's all maths to me

There was a fascinating Start the Week this week on the subject of mathematics and mathematicians. 

You might, being cynical, consider it an extended plug for this week's Radio 4 Book of  the Week - Birth of a Theorem by 'rock star' French mathematician (and Liszt impersonator) Cedric Villani (brilliantly serialised by Radio 4 and pleasingly read by Julian Rhind-Tutt- the floppy-haired blond guy from Green Wing). But it was fascinating in its own right.

Cedric is a very good communicator. Despite being French, his English is impeccable (more impeccable than many English people) and his voice is very pleasant to little to - and his opinions even more pleasant to hear. (Despite Green Wing, poor Julian Rhind-Tutt probably found himself being eclipsed as 'voice of the week' among Radio 4's female listenership by Cedric.) 

The discussion on Start the Week was highly revealing about the way mathematicians think and - probably not by design - even more revealing about the way non-mathematicians (like the film producer guest and presenter Tom Sutcliffe) think (despite their common regard for mathematicians), and how Tom & Co. come pre-armed with stereotypical images about mathematicians which the (three) mathematicians then declared to be complete misconceptions (e.g. that they are weird loners).

It's well worth a listen - as is Cedric's Book of the Week. I enjoyed every second of both of them. 

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