Our cities are filled with buildings, roads, cars, buses, trains, bikes, parks and gardens. They are crisscrossed with power, water, sewage and transport systems. They are built by engineers, architects, planners, doctors, designers and artists.
Our cities are shaped by our environment, our society and our culture. And each and every part is built on mathematics. To reveal the maths hiding in our urban surroundings we have just launched a new project: ‘Maths in the City’. The project is led by Marcus du Sautoy, Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science. Marcus and a team of volunteer mathematicians from Oxford will develop walking tours of Oxford and London taking the public on a mathematical adventure of the city.
But we need everyone’s help! In April we are running a competition, open to all, asking people to share their mathematical stories of the city. It might be a piece of interesting architecture, mathematical sculpture or the maths behind something more mundane, such as traffic lights. We’re looking for:
• interesting examples of maths in the urban environment,
• clear explanations of some maths you see in your city,
• great demonstrations of your mathematical ideas on the street.
Winning entries will become part of our virtual mathscape of cities around the world and will help Marcus and his team develop their walking tours. And, of course, you can win great prizes! Including:
• a subscription to Nature, kindly provided by Nature Publishing Group,
• best-selling popular science books, including the ‘Last Word’ series kindly donated by New Scientist,
• having a mathematical object named after you,
• and showcasing your entry with other finalists at an event in Oxford in June with Marcus and his team.
Anyone is welcome to enter the competition — young, old, students, teachers, researchers, member of the public, journalists…— and the stories can come from any city across the UK or around the world. The competition is open for entries from 4 April to 3 May 2011 – you can find out all the details, including some ideas to get you started at http://www.mathsinthecity.com