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Wednesday 24 July: Public lecture
Big School room, St Peter’s College
Supper from 6pm, lecture: 6:30pm – 7:45pm

How Many Degrees are in a Martian Circle? And other human–and nonhuman–questions one should ask about mathematics. Who chose the number 360 for the count of degrees in a circle? Why that number? And why do mathematicians not like that number for mathematics?

Why is the preferred direction of motion in mathematics counter clockwise when the rest of world naturally chooses clockwise?

Why are fingers and single digit numbers both called digits? Why do we humans like the numbers 10, 12, 20, and 60 particularly so?

Why did human circle-ometry become trigonometry?

What happened to the vinculum? (Bring back the vinculum, I say!)

Let’s spend a session together exploring tidbits from the human – and nonhuman – development of mathematics.

Who is Dr James Tanton?
James Tanton (PhD, Princeton 1994, mathematics) is an author, a consultant, and an ambassador for the Mathematical Association of America in Washington D.C., currently serving as their Mathematician-at-Large. He has taught mathematics both at university and high-school. James is absolutely committed to promoting effective and joyful mathematics thinking, learning, and doing at all levels of the education spectrum.

James writes books and video courses, advises on curriculum, consults with teachers, and gives demonstration classes and professional development sessions across the globe. He created the MAA’s Curriculum Inspirations project, serves as chair of the Advisory Council for the National Museum of Mathematics, and is a founder of The Global Math Project, an initiative set to transform the entire world’s perception of what mathematics can and should be. Over 5 million students across the planet have taken part in a common joyous piece of mathematics to see how classroom mathematics serves as a portal for human joy, wonder, and delight.