OxTALENT Speaker- Marcus Du Sautoy

Marcus_du_SautoyMarcus du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

In his launch talk for engage: Social Media Michaelmas in 2012 he talked about how he uses digital media to fulfil this role. For Marcus, engaging the public digitally is about converting passive audiences to active participants. He advocates creative thinking to find various simple effective ways to open up two-way communication with the viewing public.

Marcus’s series of mathematical programmes The Code is now held up by the BBC as exemplary digital engagement practice because of its inventive and successful online partner project. This series had a very real off-screen life in its puzzle-solving initiative. Marcus explained how thousands of viewers followed the series closely in order to find the clues to solve the Code Challenge. Furthermore, the series also produced a complicated 82 page online puzzle book. Around this challenge an enthusiastic community of amateur puzzle-solvers grew. They set up their own wikis (e.g. ‘Crack the BBC Code‘ and ‘The Code group‘) and collaborated to work out the trickiest puzzles. The final of the competition was held in Bletchley Park and televised. This project shows how, given the opportunity, a dynamic community of active, collaborative and driven people can be mobilised and engaged in scientific ideas.

Marcus also experimented with crowdsourcing in an online partner project to Numbers, the first episode of The Code. He asked viewers to upload photographs of numbers from 1 to 2011 to an online portal and was delighted with the community that sprung up around the building of this collection.

Marcus has contributed to nine series in our podcast collection:

  • Alumni Weekend
  • Oxford Research in the Humanities
  • The Secrets of Mathematics
  • Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences at the Department for Continuing Education
  • Engage: Social Media Michaelmas
  • Department for Continuing Education Open Day 2012
  • Christmas Science Lectures
  • Kellogg College
  • Inside Oxford Science

Together, these series account for more than 65,000 downloads in iTunesU.

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