4 Dec 2014

From the Archives: Marcus du Sautoy

From Our Changing World, 9:46 pm on 4 December 2014

Photo: Geometry Center / Univerity of Minnesota

Oxford University mathematician Marcus du Sautoy is visiting New Zealand next week as the Royal Society of New Zealand's Distinguished Speaker to present a series of lectures about the Art of Mathematics.

He will explore the hidden mathematical ideas that underpin the creative output of well-known artists and discuss how mathematicians are also driven by strong aesthetic values.

In this interview, recorded in 2004 when Radio New Zealand's science show was called Eureka, Veronika Meduna asks him about the seemingly random sequence of prime numbers and the Riemann Hypothesis.

Riemann's prime number theorem determines the average distribution of the primes, or in Marcus du Sautoy's words "the music of the primes". This theorem is thought to be the trickiest of seven Millennium Problems, which were established by the Clay Mathematics Institute in the year 2000 to celebrate mathematics in the new millennium.

Only one of the seven challenges, the Poincaré Conjecture, has since been solved by Grigoriy Perelman.

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