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24/01/2003, 16:30 — 17:30 — Amphitheatre Pa1, Mathematics Building
, University of Wales, Bangor

What we have tried to do in the popularisation of mathematics

It took four years (1985-89) and a lot of design help to make a public exhibition "Mathematics and knots", and this talk will describe and demonstrate some of what we learned in the process, and the extra contacts that resulted. The design team was R. Brown, N.D. Gilbert, T. Porter. Two slogans were used: "advanced mathematics from an elementary viewpoint"; "explaining the methods of mathematics to the general public". In 1996 we got involved in web work, and in 2000 in producing a CDRom, under an EC grant for European Science and Technology Week 2000, coordinated by Professor Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel (Paris), under the title "Raising Public Awareness of Mathematics". The CDrom was launched at Óbidos in November, 2000, ( with the support of the Sociedade Portuguesa de Matemática.

Curiously, the collaboration with the sculptor John Robinson was a result of a chance encounter through our involvement in Royal Institution Mathematics Masterclasses for 13 year olds, which started in 1985, and have had continued support from Anglesey Aluminium. So the presentation will also explain how the work on popularisation has influenced us. Tim Porter (Bangor) will be involved in the presentation and discussion.

Final questions: Is it a good idea to popularise mathematics to our students? And what would that mean and imply?

We have recently revised our web sites with funding from EPSRC and the continued advice and support of Edition Limitée and John Robinson. The new url is

The Mathematics Colloquium is a series of monthly talks organized by the Department of Mathematics of IST, aiming to be a forum for the presentation of mathematical ideas or ideas about Mathematics. The Colloquium welcomes the participation of faculty, researchers and undergraduate or graduate students, of IST or other institutions, and is seen as an opportunity of bringing together and fostering the building up of ideas in an informal atmosphere.

Organizers: Conceição Amado, Lina Oliveira e Maria João Borges.