Mathscon: Reshaping perceptions of mathematics

Farheen Zehra

Plus is looking forward to taking part in the next Mathscon in February 2019, after thoroughly enjoying the last event. In this article Farheen Zehra, part of the Mathscon team, explains what you can expect at the next event.

Anyone who is passionate about mathematics knows that its beauty lies in concepts, not calculations. Yet somewhere along the line we have ended up with a reputation for just number crunching.

Enter Mathscon: an organisation with a mission to reshape the world's perception of mathematics. Directed at undergraduates, young researchers and science lovers in general, each event we hold aims to expose the public to a broad range of applications that showcase the beauty of mathematics. The launch event took place in February 2017 at Imperial College London. Our delegates included some of the brightest minds and mathematics enthusiasts from universities all over the UK.

Speakers at last year's event included Nira Chamberlain – one of the Vice-Presidents of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and listed by the Science Council as "one of UK's top 100 Scientists"; Katie Steckles – an influential female mathematics communicator who works with schools, festivals and on BBC Radio and YouTube; and the multiple award holding science author and science journalist Simon Singh. (You can see interviews with Nira and Katie on Plus.)

The conference also included two panel discussions on thought provoking topics within the science community: "Is God a Mathematician?" and "Do Parallel Universes exist?". Each panel had some of the most eminent speakers related to the topics, such as James Baggot, author of Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the 'God Particle', and Carlo Contaldi, who studies the distribution of galaxies, dark matter, and the cosmic microwave background.

Maths con also offers delegates the chance to see some of the coolest applications of mathematics through workshops, covering topics such as augmented reality, mathematics and medicine, and a workshop on chess led by an international chess competitor, Dagnė Čiukšytė, and chess grandmaster and three-time world champion John Nunn.

Mathscon wants to support people who not only share an appreciation for mathematics, but also use the subject to be innovative and make a difference. At the 2018 conference Mathscon introduced the Mathscon Grant. The winner of the grant receives £1000 from Mathscon to support them in their mathematical studies. The grant is available to any mathematics enthusiast who can show how they are contributing to the mathematical community in an exciting or original way. Think this could be you? Keep an eye on the Mathscon website, details for how to apply should appear there soon.

Mathscon is the largest student led mathematics conference in the UK and we intend to grow even bigger and organise many Mathscon events around the world. We are already beginning to build partnerships with educational institutions, create relations with pioneer corporations and receive support from great names in mathematics.

The upcoming edition of Mathscon will have some exciting additions. Mathscon has expanded and will be hosting multiple smaller scale events throughout November in different universities across the UK along with our main event on Saturday 23 February 2019 at Imperial College London. Our main event will also have an additional section for student talks in which selected students will be invited to present their research work in ten minutes. You can apply at any time to be involved in these talks, see the website for more information.

You can stay updated with information, including dates for the November events and early bird ticket sales for the February 2019 conference by checking out the Mathscon website, and following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Nira Chamberlain and the Mathscon team