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

More news and ideas from Marcus du Sautoy

In Brief

Cassini’s final dive, and more news from TED speakers

September 22, 2017

As usual, the TED community has lots of news to share this week. Below, some highlights. Farewell to Cassini — and here’s to the continuing search for life beyond Earth. In mid-August, PBS released a digital short featuring Carolyn Porco, a planetary scientist and the leader of the imaging team for the Cassini mission to […]

Continue reading

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: […]

Continue reading

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 […]

Continue reading