The colour of numbers: visions of our mathematical universe

Alex Bellos write in The Guardian. One of the great perks of my job – writing about maths – is that I am always learning new maths. And I learned more in my latest book than probably in any other project I have been involved in.

This statement might sound odd, since Visions of Numberland is a colouring book. Yet the aim that my co-author Edmund Harriss and I shared was more than just to serve up pretty pictures. It was to curate a gallery of beautiful images that would introduce readers to deep mathematical ideas.

It meant that we delved through dozens of fields to find images that were both stunning to look at, and interesting to think about. The concepts that inspired the images come from number theory, topology, projective geometry, four-dimensional geometry, statistical physics, combinatorics, fractals, computer science, calculus, group theory, modular forms, complex arithmetic, Lie groups, tessellations, dynamical systems and many more mathematical fields.

Your heart may be sinking – these include areas you would only ever discover at degree level or beyond. Yet we believe that, for each image, it is possible to engage with the concepts behind it. (We have accompanying text that explains the image in layman’s terms). The book is for anyone who is intrigued by maths, not just those who enjoy colouring in.

Read more and see examples The colour of numbers: visions of our mathematical universe

Can colouring in help us understand complex maths images? Is this a way to increase pupils interest in STEM? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or on Twitter ~ Tamsin

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