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Keynote - Margaret Wertheim

"Mathematics as Material Play"

Margaret Wertheim is an internationally acclaimed writer, artist and curator whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. The author of six books, including The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace and Physics on the Fringe, she has written for the New York Times, The Guardian, Cabinet, Aeon and many others. Margaret and her twin sister Christine are founders of the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles-based practice devoted to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science and mathematics. The sisters have created exhibitions for the Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin), Mass MoCA (MA) and elsewhere. Their Crochet Coral Reef project has been shown internationally including at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsbugh), Museum of Arts and Design (New York), Deutsches Museum (Munich), and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington D.C.) Margaret has been awarded Australia’s Scientia Medal for science communication and the American Association of Physics Teachers’ prestigious Klopsteg Award for "conveying the excitement of physics."

Margaret's talk will ask: What does it mean to know mathematics? While we are used to thinking of mathematics as a symbolic activity learned through equations and books, all around us things are doing mathematics. From the hyperbolic geometry incarnated in corals to the Fourier transforms that describe an inner structure of music and data, the material world abounds with mathematical forms and patterns. In this talk, she will discuss her work using material play practices as a way to engage people with mathematics. Wertheim will propose that maths – like music – can be played out as a joyful embodied activity open to all people. Additionally, she will describe how she has used techniques such as handicrafts to specifically engage women with maths and science concepts.

Don't miss the Conversation session with Margaret Wertheim in the next session slot and her Making hyperbolic space workshop in the afternoon.

For more background information, check out margaretwertheim.comtheiff.org and follow Margaret Wertheim on Facebook.

Session speakers

Margaret Wertheim
Director
Institute For Figuring
Los Angeles
United States
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