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Favourite Discoveries Volume I


Professor Marcus Du Sautoy

I got really excited when I heard there’s a possibility that the abc conjecture has been proved.  Now, the abc conjecture is about the equation a + b = c.  Now, you think, well that sounds rather a simple equation, doesn’t it?  But actually trying to understand what the solutions are to this and the relationship about the prime devisors, this equation is so basic that actually, if the abc conjecture is proved it will imply things like  Fermat’s Last Theorem like this [click of the fingers].  It’s a really fundamental conjecture about equations which are the fundamental part of my subject.  Now, we’re not actually sure whether it has been proved, so it’s still being checked but, for me, I think that’s a really exciting announcement of this year: a + b = c.

Richard Herring

There’s so many things that are so different from 20 or 30 years ago.  Um, so it’s very hard to pick out one thing.  Um…

Helen Keen

Reaching the moon, I think.  Just everything from, you know, from the end of the 1950s when the first photographs were taken of the dark side of the moon, so we knew what that looked like for the first time, to landing on the moon.  I would love to see, in my lifetime, a moon base actually.  That is the one thing I would like to see.  That would be the kind of crowning achievement, I think, if we had a permanent base on the moon, but, yeah, anything moon based tends to get me quite excited I’m afraid.  It’s terribly sad.

Richard Herring

What’s blown my mind recently?  You know, I kind of do like all the, it’s such a slow process a lot of these things, I like all the evolutionary things of finding out where mankind came from and where animals came from so any kind of step in that direction.  I think a lot of the discoveries of the various Australopithecus skeletons and bones is very interesting.  I think my iPhone though is pretty cool.  That I can go on the internet on my phone.  When you think of what you can do with your phone it sort of is like that Star Trek communicator and scanner thing all in one so that’s pretty hard to beat.  And when you think back when I came to London I didn’t even have a mobile phone and if you messed up an arrangement with someone you had to wait until you got home and found out what was on your answering machine, if anything.  So it’s pretty good just to be able to ring someone up.