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Symmetry, reality's riddle - Marcus du Sautoy


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TED Talk

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The world turns on symmetry -- from the spin of subatomic particles to the dizzying beauty of an arabesque. But there's more to it than meets the eye. Here, Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy offers a glimpse of the invisible numbers that marry all symmetrical objects. Oxford's newest science ambassador Marcus du Sautoy is also author of The Times' Sexy Maths column. He'll take you footballing with prime numbers, whopping symmetry groups, higher dimensions and other brow-furrowers.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Marcus du Sautoy and some colleagues at Oxford developed the “Maths in the City” web site to reveal the mathematics embedded in urban environments. Visit the Maths in the City site at to sample some of the mathematical wonders in the cities of Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Asia, and America. Add an entry spotlighting the math in your own city. Marcus du Sautoy is passionate about math but critical of the way it’s traditionally taught in school. He worries that math “has been dumbed down and made so anaemic that students are being put off taking it beyond the compulsory tick in the box.” What’s contributed to this condition, according to du Sautoy, and how can we remedy it? Explore some of du Sautoy’s texts on this topic, and then hear what high school teacher Dan Meyer had to say when he spoke at TEDxNYED in 2010: The Guardian: The secret life of numbers (06/22/2009) The Guardian: Without the big maths stories, our numbers are plummeting (06/02/2008) TED: Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover Bring teachers and students together to talk about these ideas. What, if anything, constrains the ability to give math class a makeover—if in fact you agree that it needs one? Marcus du Sautoy TED: Garrett Lisi on his theory of everything Annenberg Media: Learning Math: Symmetry

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  • Speaker Marcus du Sautoy

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