Credo: Marcus du Sautoy
Mathematician and Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, 43
Sunday 15 February 2009
My role [as the Simonyi Professor] is as an ambassador for science. It's a challenge because it requires me to broaden my scientific horizons and engage in debates outside my specialist field. But I'm only one person and I can't do everything.
Creationism is a concern, but I'm trying not to get sucked into the same level of debate on the subject as [previous Simonyi Professor] Richard Dawkins. There are so many other battles to fight.
Maths is a fundamental language of our society. Just like being unable to spell or understand grammar, you'll find it hard to make your way through life without it.
The way we're teaching maths is too monochromatic. A good mathematician is not necessarily someone who is fast at their multiplication tables; the emphasis on arithmetic is mistaken. If you want to inspire kids, you have to help them explore maths' creative side.
There's some truth in the stereotype that mathematicians lack social skills. Sometimes you have to be very blinkered to get to your goal, and that can result in excluding the people around you from your world.
Governments are very oriented towards short-term goals, giving grants to research that has an immediate application. That's dangerous. Time and again, mathematical breakthroughs are made which look to be abstract and useless at the time, but turn out to be exactly what's needed.
There's a real public appetite for science, fed by swathes of popular science books and television. I often appear on Radio 5 Live, and we recently did a whole session on maths trivia. The amount of things people sent in amazed me.
If I wasn't a mathematician, I'd have joined the theatre. Even though I didn't, I've found a way of performing that I'm passionate about. There's wonderful drama in the stories of science, and every time I do a talk or TV show, I try to bring that out.
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
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