Monday, August 7, 2023

The Story of Maths

There are some apparent contradictions with this one. It's British. It's the history of mathematics. And it's a little bit... spicy.

Adults are shown enjoying adult beverages. The use of mathematics to schedule conjugal visits between a Chinese emperor and the 121 women in his hareem is illustrated. A prolific author of math texts who never actually existed. A mathematician who upended the field before losing a duel before his 21st birthday. The story of a nightclub dancer protecting a prestigious mathematician from Nazi thugs is told. And more.

Amid these spices is the history of math from before the invention of the number zero to recent attempts to prove the Riemann hypothesis. Host Marcus du Sautoy travels the world to visit key historical locations and talk to notable contemporary mathematical giants.

This is the human story of math.

We do math. We love math. And math coursework is devoted to the ideas and mechanics of math. Rightfully so. Here are four hours that humanize math. It might be a worthy diversion to contextualize high school or college mathematics.

Co-produced by the BBC and presented by Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy, this miniseries covers such subjects as the invention of zero and the Riemann hypothesis, the contributions of great mathematicians including Pythagoras, Plato and Euclid, and some of the biggest unsolved problems that confronted math scholars in the 20th century. Also, du Sautoy examines key mathematical ideas and their influence on today's science, technology and culture.
In the first episode of this fascinating BBC science documentary, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy goes back in time to a pivotal moment in ancient Egypt and Greek history. Decimal systems are created, while the way we tell time today is based on a Babylonian Base 60 number system. What would our lives be like without the fundamental theories of math giants such as Archimedes and Pythagoras?

Marcus du Sautoy looks at the rise of mathematics in the east, discovering how it helped build imperial China and finding out about the invention of algebra. Content Note: this episode acknowledges the historical fact that ancient Chinese emperors slept with 121 women every 15 nights and describes how mathematics played a role in the logistics.

Marcus du Sautoy investigates the ways in which Europe replaced the Middle East as the world's powerhouse of mathematical ideas by the 17th century.

Marcus du Sautoy concludes his look at the history of mathematics by examining the great unsolved problems that confronted mathematicians in the 20th century.

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