Stimulating talk juggles maths and theory

Mathematician Dr Colin Wright at Glebelands School

Mathematician Dr Colin Wright at Glebelands School

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On Thursday May 5, Glebelands School in Cranleigh were delighted to host the mathematician Dr Colin Wright as he gave a very visually entertaining but mentally stimulating talk on the maths behind juggling to students and the community.

Colin graduated from Monash University in Melbourne with a degree in Pure Mathematics and then went on to receive his doctorate from Cambridge University. Whilst at Cambridge he also learned how to fire-breath, unicycle, juggle and ballroom dance .

Since then he has worked as a research mathematician, computer programmer and electronic hardware mathematician as well as taking time to give presentations all over the world.

Dr Wright’s key passion is finding maths in unexpected places, so a talk about juggling didn’t focus on forces and flight paths but on the actual juggling tricks themselves. The talk was incredibly entertaining with Colin juggling throughout using tricks to illustrate his points. He explained how even though juggling has been around for hundreds of years, we are still learning new things about it thanks to maths.

A recently developed mathematical notation has not only enabled tricks to be recorded but has actually revealed secrets and allowed the tricks to be understood further. Indeed, even the new technology of 3D printing is furthering our understanding of even very basic juggling.

A particularly impressive part of the evening was seeing Colin juggle five balls –a skill which took him an entire year to learn. But thanks to the insights produced through mathematics it can now be learnt in only three months.

Very soon the entire hall was analysing tricks themselves and we even created a brand new juggling trick which Colin performed on the spot with no practice!

The evening was a brilliant success and Dr Wright was kept very busy with questions from enthusiastic audience members at the end.

To attend similar talks at Glebelands in the future, email communitysecretary@glebelands.surrey.sch.uk