Who needs the real world?

Vincent van der Noort is a mathematician. Often, the abundance of mathematics in school curricula is motivated by referring to the incredible effectiveness of math as a tool to understand or even control the real world.

Vincent however, will use his experience in mathematics to spread a thought worth spreading diagonally opposed to this, but no less heartfelt: One does not need the real world at all. All you need are your own thoughts and fantasies. If not to find happiness, then at least to find everything you are looking for in science: wonder, discovery and frustration. Math provides us with two experiences to support this case. Vincent will illustrate this in his talk: 1) often our most intimate and familiar acquaintances (e.g. whole numbers) can be as mysterious as the early universe and 2) many of our wildest fantasies, taking us beyond the borders of the imaginable (e.g. four dimensional space) can be made as precise and concrete as a rock or a chair.

Vincent van der Noort

Vincent van der Noort (1980) is the author of the book Getallen zijn je beste vrienden (Numbers are your best friends, 2011) explaining the fun and beauty of mathematics to a general audience. He obtained his PhD in pure mathematics in 2009 from Utrecht University and has since taught mathematics at various levels (high school, university, teacher training). He currently works as a statistician at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. From 2000 to 2010 he was a co-organizer of math holiday camps for high school students with Stichting Vierkant voor Wiskunde. He is also active as an actor and musician in various improv theatre groups in Amsterdam.