Matt opened the talk with a clever trick for calculating cube roots and solving a Rubik’s cube in less than one and a half minutes, stunning the audience with his lightning fast responses and witty informal dialogue. We were introduced to a new area of mathematics called knot theory, where ‘knot theorists’ are trying to find the best way to untangle knots. In fact this has great significance in biology since bacteria are better at untangling knots than we are. If we understood how they worked, knot theory could help develop new medical technology to fight bacteria.
The most mind-blowing part of Matt’s talk was definitely when he introduced us to higher dimensional versions of common shapes. He showed us how the shadow of a 3D net of a 4D cube folds together and discussed his favourite shape, a three dimensional Mobius strip! Also known as a Klein bottle, this 3D shape can only properly exist in four dimensions (in three dimensions part of the shape appears to go through itself). Amazingly Matt not only showed us how this shape can be made from glass, but even brought a knitted version made by his mum!
Matt’s talk was delightfully engaging, interweaving his fascinating topics with fun interactive activities including how to mathematically tie your laces, making interlocking hearts from two Mobius strips, building higher dimensional shapes using just straws, and, if a typical 3D Rubik’s cube is not hard enough, where one can solve 4D and even 5D magic cubes. Matt’s enthusiasm and passion for maths was truly inspiring and sharp humour made his lecture appealing to both young and older members of the audience.
-Wendi Fan and Aberami Shanmugarasa