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It's not often you see a maths professor reduced to zero on stage and then stuffed into a bag. But this is exactly what happened to Marcus du Sautoy at the Science Museum — and by means of a mathematical argument at that. Only du Sautoy wasn't being himself of course. He was playing the role of X in the new play, *X&Y*.

When we arrived at the The New Diorama Theatre in London we didn't know what to expect. *The universal machine* is a musical about the life of mathematician and WWII code breaker Alan Turing. I have only seen one musical in my whole life, *Cats*, and it made me feel ill, so I really could not fathom how this was going to work. But as it turned out, we loved it.

*Superposition*, an audio-visual performance written by Ryoji Ikeda, is not for the faint hearted. We certainly wouldn't ever be tempted to listen to the sound track on its own. But despite its challenging nature, it is a wonderful experience which evoked a sense of beauty from chaos, mathematics, and physics, carried across by visual art and music.

Many people's impression of mathematics is that it is an ancient edifice built on centuries of research. However, modern quantitative finance, an area of mathematics with such a great impact on all our lives, is just a few decades old. The Isaac Newton Institute quickly recognised its importance and has already run two seminal programmes, in 1995 and 2005, supporting research in the field of mathematical finance.

*Strong Fields, Integrability and Strings*programme, which took place at the Isaac Newton Institute in 2007, explored an area that would have been close to Isaac Newton's heart: how to unify Einstein's theory of gravity, a continuation of Newton's own work on gravitation, with quantum field theory, which describes the atomic and sub-atomic world, but cannot account for the force of gravity.