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Tuesday, 9 February 2021, 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Museum of London

Mathematical Journeys into Fictional Worlds

Professor Sarah Hart

Literary satire has long used mathematical concepts to reinforce its points. Gulliver’s Travels (1724) played with ideas of dimension, size, and shape, and a century later, Edwin Abbot’s novel Flatland (1884) explored the mathematics of higher dimensions, through the experiences of its two-dimensional protagonist, “A Square”. Both novels have spawned a host of sequels, commentaries, and films. 

This lecture explores how mathematical ideas have been interpreted in fiction, and discusses the unlikelihood, mathematically, of realms such as Brobdingnag and Lilliput, or the room-sized spiders of Hogwarts.


No reservations are required for this lecture. It will be run on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Doors will open 30 minutes before the start of the lecture.

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Sarah Hart is the first woman Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, and was appointed in 2020. She is Professor of Mathematics and Head of Mathematics and Statistics at Birkbeck, University of London.

She studied at Oxford and Manchester, gaining her PhD in 2000. Postdoctoral research and teaching followed, including a prestigious Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Fellowship, before she was appointed to a lectureship at Birkbeck in 2004. She has been Professor of Mathematics there since 2013. She is also Vice President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics.

Sarah is an active researcher, publishing mainly in the area of pure mathematics known as group theory, which has many applications both inside and outside of mathematics, for example in coding theory and cryptography. She is passionate about communicating mathematics and is a sought-after public speaker. She is particularly interested in the links between mathematics, culture and creativity: many of her public lectures and talks in schools are on this topic, especially on mathematics and art.

In 2020-21, Professor Hart will be lecturing on Mathematics in Music and Writing, part of a three-year exploration of Mathematics, Culture and Creativity.

Professor Hart's lecture series is as follows:

2020/21 Mathematics in Music and Writing

All lectures by the Gresham Professors of Geometry can be found here.

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