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Marcus du Sautoy Marcus du Sautoy | 13:00 UK time, Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Welcome to The Code. This new series for BBC2 will make you see the world in a completely different way. Because underlying everything that surrounds us, from the natural world to the cities we live in, there is a hidden code that explains why things look and behave they way they do. That code is Mathematics.

My name is Marcus du Sautoy and I’m a mathematician. In the three programmes that make up my new series The Code, I want to reveal to you the hidden language of the universe and let you see the world through my eyes. Watch Pixar movies through the lens of a fractal geometer, listen to the story of Jack the Ripper through the ears of a mathematical detective and discover secret numbers built into ancient stone circles and gothic cathedrals.

But what makes this series so unique is that it is more than just a television programme. Running alongside the programmes is an exciting mathematical treasure hunt full of engaging puzzles, addictive online games and clever conundrums that will take you on an exciting mathematical journey of discovery. Called the Code Challenge it is an experience that combines the intrigue of solving a murder mystery with the addictive playfulness of Angry Birds.

For me mathematics is not a spectator sport. The best way to appreciate and get excited by the power of this extraordinary subject is by immersing yourself actively in its world. The Code Challenge is a fantastic way to play and explore the mathematical language of the universe. And not only is it fun to play but there is a unique and valuable prize awaiting the person who finishes the challenge first.

There will be clues hidden inside each programme to help you crack the Code Challenges but you can already start taking part by helping us to capture pictures of the building blocks of mathematics: the prime numbers. These indivisible numbers are my favourite in all of mathematics – not least because the football shirt I play in for my Sunday League team is a prime, 17. But they are also the most important numbers in my subject because all numbers are built by multiplying primes together. Primes are the atoms of arithmetic.

Your first challenge is to work as a team and send us pictures of the first 100 prime numbers from 2,3,5… all the way up to 541. Perhaps you live at a prime number house, go to work on a prime number bus, have a cow in the local field with a prime number branded on its back. Or perhaps you can find a prime hiding in an unexpected location that would surprise us here at Code headquarters. 

Screengrab of the Froghopper game - part of the BBC Code Challenge

Get warmed up with Froghopper - the first of The Code's online games...

There is also the first of several addictive online games available to play. Called Froghopper it will help you warm-up your geometry skills. Can you pack shapes efficiently to help our frog to get to his destination? You never know, playing this game might help you when you next try to pack the car or a suitcase if you’re off on your holidays soon.

So get your puzzle hats on and good luck in cracking the Code Challenge! Get chatting on this blog or see what everyone else is saying on Twitter.



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