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Maths meets art in unique collaboration around minimal surfaces

A unique collaboration between mathematicians and artists takes place at the Attenborough Arts Centre on Thursday 5 September.

Based in our School of Mathematics and Actuarial Science, the international research network Minimal surfaces: integrable systems and visualisation (m:iv), lead by Dr Katrin Leschke, works on open problems on minimal surfaces.  Physically, minimal surfaces arise for example when withdrawing a wire loop from soapy water.

Artists were asked to respond to the mathematical research that the network is undertaking: the aim of the project is to investigate how modern research in mathematics, its beauty and its importance, can be communicated to a broader audience. In the area of surface theory, computer graphics already allow to show images of the work, however, the deeper beauty of mathematical surface often appears for a mathematician from its context in mathematics: the question address by this project ws how to communicate this deeper understanding of mathematics to non-experts.

‘Finite Topology conjecture’ is an open problem in minimal surface theory. During the residency the artists achieved an understanding of the contents of the conjecture, why it is believed to be true, how mathematicians approach the question and what the obstructions are to fully answer the question.

The first outcomes of this ongoing project will be showcased by Lee Allatson and Jenny Hibberd at Attenborough Arts Centre, at 5.30pm on Thursday 5 September 2019.

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