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Saturday, 16 July 2011

BBC series: The Story of Maths

The BBC is re-airing its 2008 series, "The Story of Maths", presented by Marcus du Sautoy.

Catch the first episode "The Language of the Universe" on iplayer here (UK only)
The second episode, "The Genius of the East" will air on BBC 4 on Tuesday 19th July at 8pm.

The first hour-long documentary traces the origins of mathematics, detailing the contributions made by the Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks.  It tells the story of how numbers such as pi, zero, irrational numbers and the Golden Ratio came to play such an important role in mathematics.  Episode Two will move east to China, and the final two episodes will trace the story of maths up to the present day.

I often feel patronised by science documentaries, but I'm actually learning things from this series, which would seems like it would also be very accessible to non-mathematicians.  Even though I'm already familiar with the theorems, learning about their origins and how ancient people came to realise them gives fresh food for thought.  One of the things I love most about maths is how every problem can be approached using a range of different methods, so it's interesting to see how ancient cultures arrived at the same mathematical truths as modern mathematicians, often while seeking solutions to very different problems.

The Story of Math on DVD

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