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The Final Frontier!

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Marcus du Sautoy Marcus du Sautoy | 21:00 UK time, Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A photo of The Code treasure sculpture

If you're one of the first three people to solve the final puzzle, you're in with a chance of meeting Marcus and winning this beautiful 3D-printed sculpture.

The Code might have come to an end but the Code Challenge is just hotting up. With the transmission of the third and final episode of the series you should now have all the clues in place to move on to the next stage of the competition. And the first three to crack this will get the chance to meet me and battle it out in a final round on the 10 September.

One of the most exciting things about making this series has been seeing how the Code Challenge has really got people actively involved in the content of the programmes. Mathematics is not a spectator sport and the interactive treasure hunt has provided a fantastic extra dimension to exploring the maths at the heart of our world. I never expected our prime number community challenge to be completed so quickly. Viewers came up with some really inventive ways to find primes: from the countdown clock at the launch of the Atlantis space shuttle which got held at 00:31 to finding people who'd got primes tattooed on their arms (well it was actually me who found that one).

One of the really exciting things about being a mathematician is having one of those "aha" moments where you suddenly make a breakthrough on a problem you've been working on for ages. It really is the buzz that I live for as a mathematician. It's been great to see that viewers have been having their own "aha" moments solving some of the trickier bits of the treasure hunt whether it was cracking the formula behind the puzzling dice in episode 2 or suddenly seeing numbers in the stars in episode 1.

It's always a bit sad to see the last programme go out in a series. When you make a TV show like this it really does become part of your life. We started filming the Code in February when we visited the Merker's mine with its extraordinary cubic salt crystals and we finished in mid-June when we witnessed the total eclipse of the moon in Cyprus. It's one of the real privileges of making TV to have the chance to visit so many fascinating locations during the months of filming. But we have been working on the programme for years before the first shots were taken, trying to find the best way to bring a very abstract subject like mathematics to life in a visual medium like TV. Although I get to be in front of the camera it must be recognised what an amazing team effort it is to make a TV series like The Code and I have had a great team of people to work with. Thank you to you all.

We hope you enjoyed the series and continue to have fun solving the puzzles. Good luck in the final push to get your hands on the treasure - I'll be meeting three of you in a month's time!



  • Comment number 1.

    I have just watched this programme tonight and wondered was the number six that appeared in the flock of Starlings edited in or did the flock of starlings really randomly form a clear perfect number six while in flight. I have taken a photo of the image of the perfect number 6.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's edited, it's part of the treasure hunt.

    And on that subject, did someone forget to put in the 'hidden in a search' clue, the only thing I can see in the clip is a floating search saying "Unexpected Google Clue" which stands out but isn't obviously linked to any of the options on the dial. It seems like a placeholder someone forgot to replace, is this the case or shall I keep looking?

  • Comment number 3.

    IBI it could be crowd or group do you think? They mentioned searches people did for flu so groups gave the same graph?
    Anyone help with the hand clue watched it loads don't see it?

  • Comment number 4.

    I was puzzled by the statement that 15% more (about living in cities) is the same as 15% "better". That's a value-laden judgement and I didn't think mathematics was judgemental. Maybe a mathematical analysis of the value of living in rural areas would have helped ... I don't know. It just sounded very odd to me.

  • Comment number 5.

    I was puzzled by the Lemming equation, which was written down on paper as P(next)= RP X (1-P). P(next) is next years population... RP was the current years population... The term in brackets related to the number that died in the current year.This equation always leads to a negative lemming population, since P is positive? This equation is also different to the one I have seen in print, written by Marcus.

  • Comment number 6.

    Having now watched all 3 programmes my overall view is it was mildly interesting and it did prove that the boring subject of Mathematics can be made fun if done the right way. I liken it to a Shire Album. They feature minor topics, such as Icehouses for example, and by the use of glossy photos and simple text give the reader an insight into a subject they may well not have bothered with before.

    Then if you want to learn more you move on. In this instance, on balance, I won't thank you.

  • Comment number 7.

    As a follow-up I guess I find mathematical codes too complicated and beyond my comprehension. A bit like PI - they go on and on indefinitely and I haven't the patience to get my head around it properly.

    Letter codes are something else though. How many of you know about the 250 year old unsolved mystery of the enigmatic inscription on the Shepherd's Monument at Shugborough (Staffs) ?

    Try it as this is fun :

    D M

  • Comment number 8.

    IBI at 2.

    Saw it too. Seemed obvious to google "unexpected google search" and take it from there. Looked like a dead end at first - same clip on utube - but watched and saw.

  • Comment number 9.

    Geoff, the equation works fine if you think of P as a fraction of an upper population limit L. If you don't want to think of it that way, try using this equation instead:

    P next = RP(1 - P/L)

  • Comment number 10.

    The extremely poor presentation / explanation of the lemming population equation did more harm than good. I tried to follow it and soon realised that taking it as presented always led to negative populations. Marcus must try harder to keep me as a viewer!


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