Topology on a blackboard, courtesy of Ryan Budney

Haggis the Sheep is back on the blog! And not just this blog, but two others that I’ve started up. The first is a photo-blog about mathematicians’ blackboards: What’s on my blackboard? Every week I want to upload a photo of a blackboard with some interesting or beautiful (or both!) maths on it, along with a short description of the mathematics. I think that there really is something wonderful about seeing the random scribblings of a great mathematician, or seeing the beautiful abstract pictures that we draw. Spread the word and get your local mathematicians to send me photos! (And it can be whiteboards too – I’m not discriminating!)

The other blog is to document a project that my friend Madeleine Shepherd and I have just got funding for. It’s called The Mathematician’s Shirts and is being funded by ASCUS, the Art Science Collaborative in Edinburgh. Madeleine and I beat off a lot of competition to secure the funding and we’re really excited about getting started on the project.

A humble shirt, but what will it become?

The idea here is that we are going to make a series of soft sculptures out of shirts to represent different mathematical concepts. For example, we could pass a shirt’s sleeve through itself to make a Klein Bottle, or we could sew successively smaller sleeves onto each other to make a fractal object. It was Madeleine’s idea to use the shirt, since it is an iconic piece of clothing, representing the formal and largely male world of mathematics. Perhaps some of the shirts will be donated by mathematicians themselves!

Here’s the timeline for the project. Over the next few weeks we’ll get together with local mathematicians to brainstorm ideas and make a concrete plan for between 5 and 7 sculptures. Then in September and October it’ll be time for the practical work to begin, actually sewing and making the sculptures in Madeleine’s studio. Finally, in November there’ll be an exhibition in a ‘non-standard’ location. That is, not a maths department or a science museum or an art gallery. We thought maybe we could have our exhibition in a shop window to entice passing shoppers.

If you have ideas on either of my two new projects, I’d be very glad to hear from you!

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Posted by ranicki on June 24, 2011 at 6:43 am

It would be great to photograph Simon Willerton’s knots on the blackboard in 5607 – I hope they are still there!