20 Nov 2015 Simon Singh Delivers A Lecture For Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre (The NCS) Maths Students
On Monday 16th November 2015, acclaimed science and maths author Simon Singh visited students at The NCS to deliver a talk based on his interests and works.
After working on experiments at CERN during the 1980s, Mr Singh moved into television and worked at the BBC on programmes such as Tomorrow’s World and Horizon. In 1996 he directed a documentary on Fermat’s Last Theorem which went on to win a BAFTA award. Speaking to all our year 12 and 13 maths students, he opened his talk with the opening shot of this documentary which showed mathematician Andrew Wiles holding back tears as he discussed the moment he realised that he had finished his proof which solved one of the world’s most notorious mathematical problems.
The use of this clip highlighted just how much it’s possible to develop a love of maths and was a perfect springboard for Simon to detail the history of Pierre de Fermat and how a scribble in the margin of a notebook became such an infamous puzzle that took centuries to be solved. It also served as a great example to our students that great work and discoveries will often require immeasurable dedication; citing the fact that it took Wiles seven years to complete his 200 page proof.
He ended his talk by discussing various career paths that could be pursued by studying maths at university, most notably by highlighting various influences in the media and arts. His most recent book “The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets” delves into the fact that many of the writers on the hit TV show are maths graduates who started to litter ‘nerdy’ jokes in the background of shots, a fact he first noticed when Homer Simpson wrote a near miss for Fermat’s Last Theorem on a chalk board. After demonstrating some of his favourite examples, we’re sure that our students will be keenly watching future broadcasts to try and spot some of what they’ve learnt in episodes.
Everyone at The NCS would like to thank Simon for visiting and delivering such an insightful lecture.
The student view
``Having seen his talk and heard what he had to say, you realise that maths is literally everywhere and it’s the building blocks of life even though most of us don’t realise it``
``At the end he touched upon the fact that big companies are looking for people that have maths and science degrees, so I’m definitely going to continue studying it.``
``I would just like to thank Simon Singh for visiting our school, I’m sure he has inspired many students through his lecture – and possibly convinced more students to do mathematics or science at university. ``
You can read Monica’s full blog on the talk on the NCS Maths Society Blog – https://ncs6mathssociety.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/simon-singh-lecture/
Simon Singh on NCS students:
``A couple of answers that I had that were not just right, but were textbook perfect and it’s great to see young people with such confidence. Not just confidence with their mathematical knowledge, but confidence in being able to speak in a large room and discuss mathematical ideas in that way.``