The Code: Revealing the secret

Wednesday 27 July 2011, 12:15

Marcus du Sautoy Marcus du Sautoy

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When I was 12 my maths teacher took me aside after one lesson and let me into a secret that changed my life forever.

Mathematics, it turned out, was more than just the long division we were practicing in the classroom.

He started to tell me fantastic stories that were written in the language of mathematics.

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Marcus du Sautoy learns about the periodical cicada

And we discovered how the mathematics of pattern searching helps you to become the rock paper scissors world champion.

Hopefully after you've watched The Code you'll never look at mathematics or the world in the same way again.

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 one talented player.

So join me on my journey and let me reveal to you what mathematics is really about.

Marcus du Sautoy is a professor of mathematics and the presenter of The Code.

The Code is on BBC Two and BBC HD on Wednesday, 27 July at 9pm.

For further programme times, please visit the upcoming episodes page.

For episode guides from Marcus du Sautoy and clues to The Code Challenge, please visit The Code blog.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Well...what a disappointment! A lot of fluff, repetition and grandstanding. I found this program patronizing and superficial. No real science or insight, a lot of moody images, and frankly...boring! What has happened to BBC's science programming? This program was overly hyped up, and delivered nothing substantial. And as for the assumption that early builders only "stumbled" on the significance of the numerical design on human consciousness, and did not know what they were doing, shows a level of intellectual arrogance, that devalued the professors standing IMO!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I agree. A very superficial programme. Also, there was at least one factual error, when Prof. du Sautoy stated that no matter how big a circle you draw, the circumference divided by the radius equals pi. This is only true if the circle is drawn and measured in a plane. A huge circle drawn on the surface of earth, and measured on the surface, will have a ratio of less than pi.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Agree totally, very disappointing. Who is the target audience? Children? If so surely it would be better before 9pm. Adults? If so then it really has to grow up and drop the drivel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Dear Sir,

    The Code – BBC2, 27 July 2011

    I found the programme "The Code" very interesting. I wish to offer two comments as follows:

    1. Pi:

    Pi (π) is known as a transcendental irrational number and, in theory, it does not have a definite and singular value. In practice, however, a value of 3.1416 is generally accepted. A value of Pi (π) is obtained by approximating the circle as a polygon with straight-line sides, a process that does not really accord with the purist principles of mathematics. If one uses a triangle, value of π will be 2.598. The value will increase to 2.828, 3.000, 3.061 and 3.131 for approximation of a circle with polygons with 4, 6, 8 and 20 sides. The increase will get smaller and smaller, and will virtually flatten off after, say, a 20-sided polygon. A value of 3.14 will be reached with a polygon with 56 sides and. a 120-sided polygon will give π as 3.1412.

    2. Negative numbers

    Arithmetical multiplication of numbers is a repetitive addition. However, application of a sign to the number changes the process into a statement, requiring association of meaning to a sign - plus (+) meaning forward or in credit or better-off and minus (-) meaning backward or in debit or worse-off.

    For example, (-3)x(+2) means asking for the result of "giving away (-)" £3.00 every day after two days in the future (+). Here, the sum of £3.00 has a negative sign and the period of two days in future has a plus sign. The answer (-6) means that one would be £6.00 "worse-off (-)" in two days time. Similarly, with the rate of giving away three pounds per day (-3),one would have been £6.00 better-off (+6) two days ago (-2).

    Yours faithfully,

    Dr Satish Desai
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    so disappointed, as mentioned it was all surface and failed to illuminate and connect the information and seemed to have items discussed at random. Thanks goodness jams burke's connections are all up on youtube to remind us how to do these kind of programmes. BBC drama has recently improved, hopefully science will as well


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