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Simon Singh

Hi Simon! We look forward to your talk during the Sonja Kovalevsky Days. When did you feel mathematics was something you were really interested in?
- "I was mainly interested in phyiscs when I was growing up, so mathematics was just a tool for doing mathematics. However, when I wrote "Fermat's Last Theorem", I realised the beauty of mathematics."

Why do you find mathematics so interesting and fascinating?
 - "I remember learning that 26 is the only positive number between a square number and a cube number, and that showed me why maths is so interesting and fascinating. Why is this number unique among the infinity of numbers? And can we prove that it is true? All of this made my head explode with excitement. Perhaps that is a slight exageration, but it was a memorable moment."

Did you have a role model within mathematics or science when you were young? Why did you choose her/him?
- "I had a great maths teacher, Mr Stephens, who taught me for 8 years. He introduced the class to some quite advanced topics, and by the time I left high school my brain hurt because it had been properly stretched."

Do you have a role model or an idol today? Who? Why is she/he your role model/idol?
- "I wrote a book about Andrew Wiles and his proof of Fermat's last theorem. His story is truly remarkable. He dreamed of finding a proof from the age of ten, so his story is one of childhood ambition and adult obsession. He demonstrates that passion that drives so many mathematicians."

How would you explain the core of mathematics?
 - "It is about more than adding up numbers. Or subtracting, dividing or multiplying them. It is ultimately an adventure in abstraction."

Your favorite book in mathematics?
- "Anything by the great Martin Gardner, who would have been 100 years old this year."

What are your expectations for the Sonja Kovalevsky days?
- "It is always great to meet budding mathematicians, people who might proof theorems, contribute to science, invent new technologies and become computer pioneers."

What do you do in your spare time?
- "I have a 4-year-old son, and we do a lot of things together, including maths. It is extraordinary watching a young child learn the basics of counting. It makes me realise that maths is quite unnatural, and it is almost miraculous that our brains can cope with higher level number theory and geometry."

Sidansvarig: webbansvarig@math.lu.se | 2015-11-06