Oxford's newest science ambassador Marcus du Sautoy is also author of The Times' Sexy Maths column. He'll take you footballing with prime numbers, whopping symmetry groups, higher dimensions and other brow-furrowers.

Why you should listen

Marcus du Sautoy only permits prime numbers on the uniforms of his football team, but that idiosyncrasy isn't (entirely) driven by superstition -- just pure love. (His number is 17.) You might say primes, "the atoms of mathematics," as he calls them, are du Sautoy's intellectual spouse, the passion that has driven him from humble-enough academic beginnings to a spectacular and awarded career in maths, including a Royal Society fellowship and, of course, his recent election to the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science, the post previously held by Richard Dawkins.

A gifted science communicator -- interesting fashion sense aside -- du Sautoy has most recently been host of the BBC miniseries "The Story of Maths," which explores fascinating mathematical theories and techniques from throughout history and across cultures. Before that, he hosted The Num8er My5teries, a lecture series on history's stubbornest math problems -- the sorts of conundrums that get your head griddle-hot with thinking. He's also author, perhaps most famously, of The Music of the Primes, an engaging look at the often Pyrrhic attempts at cracking the Riemann Hypothesis. His 2008 book, Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature, looks at various kinds of mathematical and aesthetic symmetry, including a massive, mysterious object called "the Monster" that exists in 196,883 dimensions.

What others say

“This is a man who knows how to bring mathematics to everyday life.” — Robin McKie, The Observer

Marcus du Sautoy’s TED talk

Marcus du Sautoy on the TED Blog

Symmetry, reality's riddle: Marcus du Sautoy on TED.com

October 29, 2009

The world turns on symmetry — from the spin of subatomic particles to the dizzying beauty of an arabesque. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here, Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy offers a glimpse of the invisible numbers that marry all symmetrical objects. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2009, July 2009, Oxford, UK. Duration: […]

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Marcus du Sautoy at TEDGlobal 2009: Running notes from Session 6

July 22, 2009

Mathematician and science communicator Marcus du Sautoy began his talk with the story of Evariste Galois, a Paris revolutionary who died in his brother’s arms. The night before, Galois had stayed up all night trying to explain his mathematical ideas before his duel the next day. He was trying to explain symmetry. Symmetry helps us […]

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Twitter Snapshot: Marcus du Sautoy on symmetry

July 22, 2009

Marcus du Sautoy used his math and science skills to open Session 6 with a thorough talk about symmetry. Reactions to this talk on Twitter seemed to range from amusing to challenging, but to be fair, Marcus du Sautoy did challenge the audience first. You know you’re at #TED when mathematicians get cheers on stage. […]

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Quotes from Marcus du Sautoy

If you can make yourself symmetrical, you’re sending out a sign that you’ve got good genes, you’ve got a good upbringing and therefore you’ll make a good mate.
Marcus du Sautoy
TEDGlobal 2009 • 804K views Oct 2009
Fascinating, Informative
The invention of the number zero was a very modern concept — seventh century A.D. by the Indians. It seems mad to talk about nothing.
Marcus du Sautoy
TEDGlobal 2009 • 804K views Oct 2009
Fascinating, Informative
The power of mathematics is often to change one thing into another, to change geometry into language.
Marcus du Sautoy
TEDGlobal 2009 • 804K views Oct 2009
Fascinating, Informative