According to legend, Dido was given a bull's hide and told that she could have as much land as it could contain. She cut it into a long, thin strip, and enclosed a huge area, within which she founded Carthage. What shape did she lay out to enclose the greatest area? And what if she'd done it by the seaside? Such questions have led to a new understanding of soap bubbles, shoelaces, and cable television.
Ian Stewart read Mathematics at Churchill College, Cambridge before completing his doctorate at the University of Warwick where he is now a Professor of Maths. He was the first recipient of the Christopher Zeeman medal and has held visiting professorships in the United States, Germany and New Zealand. He has given the Royal Institution Christmas lectures and is a fellow of the Royal Society. He was the Gresham Professor of Geometry between 1994 and 1998.