The annual University of Cambridge Science Festival takes place from 9-22 March 2015, packed with hundreds of free events for all ages. You can browse the full programme on the Cambridge Science Festival web pages, but we've also picked out some of the Festival's mathematical highlights for you below.

From maths and art to the mystery of dark matter, Fermat's Last Theorem to the Enigma code, the free public talks on offer cover a huge range of mathematical topics. And don't forget to join us at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences for the biennial Maths Open Day on Saturday 21 March to explore a huge range of hands-on mathematical activities and demonstrations for all ages. We look forward to seeing you there!

Please note: the events below take place in a number of different locations. Please click on the link in each case for further details including venue information and, where applicable, to book tickets.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

  • Colour, new dimensions and the geometry of physics (March 10, 5pm - 6pm)

    Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek talks about his work on finding a theory that explains all the fundamental forces and particles we see, and his popular book The lightness of being.
    Talk. Ages 15+. Booking required.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

  • Order out of chaos (March 11, 6pm - 7pm)

    Suppose we have six people at a party. Any two are either friends or strangers. Can we always find three of them who are either mutual friends or mutual strangers? Professor Imre Leader explores how order can be found in chaos, as long as there is enough of it.
    Talk. Ages 12+. Booking required.

Thursday 12 March 2015

  • Some essential links between maths and the arts (March 12, 5:30pm - 6:30pm)

    Professor John D. Barrow explores a range of links between mathematics and the arts; including Dali's use of 4D geometry, how fractals are used to distinguish abstract art works, the plan of the subterranean Tunnel of Eupalinos in 520BC, and how smooth curves inform Henry Moore's stringed sculptures.
    Talk. Ages 15+. Booking required.

Saturday 14 March 2015

  • Enigma and the secret world of code breaking (March 14, 10:30am - 11:30am)

    Dr James Grime looks at the fascinating history and mathematics of codes and code breaking, from ancient Greece to the present day - including a demonstration of an original WWII Enigma Machine!
    Talk. Ages 8+. Booking required.

  • Don't believe this talk: maths that can't be true! (March 14, 2pm - 3pm)

    Steve Mould looks at the maths that confounds our expectations and laughs in the face of our intuition. Find out how many numbers in the universe start with a 1, how to cheat on your homework and other mathematical surprises.
    Talk. Ages 12+. This event is fully booked but limited tickets are available on the day.

  • Happy birthday, Fermat's last theorem (March 14, 3:30pm - 4:30pm)

    Simon Singh celebrates the fact that it has been exactly twenty years since a proof of Fermat's last theorem was published. He will discuss the origin of the problem, describe the people who tried and failed to prove it, and tell the story of Professor Andrew Wiles, who conquered Fermat's challenge after working in secret for seven years.
    Talk. Ages 12+. This event is fully booked but limited tickets are available on the day.

  • Illuminating statistics (March 14, 10am - 4pm)

    The modern world is full of numbers. It is more important than ever that we know how to ask, answer and understand questions about public health in this sea of numbers and data. Come join the MRC Biostatistics Unit and take part in activities that will show how and what we can learn from numbers.
    Hands-on. All ages. No booking needed.

  • Seeing further than others: Isaac Newton's world of light and colour (March 14, 11am - 12:30pm)

    Rob Iliffe, Director of the Isaac Newton Papers Project in the University of Sussex, talks about Newton's work on light and his great publication Opticks. The talk will be accompanied by a display of Newton's manuscripts from the University Library's treasured collections.
    Talk. Ages 15+. No booking needed.

Monday 16 March 2015

  • Stamping through mathematics (March 16, 6pm - 7pm)

    Robin Wilson explores the entire history of mathematics in one hour, as illustrated by around 300 postage stamps featuring mathematics and mathematicians from across the world. From Euclid to Euler, from Pythagoras to Poincaré, and from Fibonacci to the Fields Medals, all are featured in attractive, charming and sometimes bizarre stamps. No particular knowledge of mathematics or philately required.
    Talk. Ages 12+. Pre-book.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

  • Sex by numbers: statistics of our intimate lives (March 18, 7:30pm - 8:30pm)

    The latest survey of British sexual behaviour suggests that we are becoming more experimental in our sex lives, but there is less of it going on. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter will look at sex statistics going back to 1580, show that more boys are born at the end of wars, and argue that this means sexual activity was at a historical minimum in 1898.
    talk. Ages 15+. Pre-book.

Thursday 19 March 2015

  • El Niño: what on earth will happen next? (March 19, 5:30pm - 6:30pm)

    El Niño events are the largest causes of year-to-year climate variability on a global scale, bringing floods to some regions and droughts to others. Join Dr Michael Davey as he explains the phenomenon, explores the impacts, and describes how maths helps us understand how they occur and evolve.
    Talk. Ages 15+. Booking required.

  • Einstein's legacy: 100 years of general relativity (March 19, 7:45pm - 9pm)

    2015 is the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's full formulation of the theory of general relativity. This research fundamentally changed our concepts of space and time. John D Barrow and Ulrich Sperhake from the University of Cambridge and Michael Kramer from Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and University of Manchester will discuss Einstein's legacy.
    Talk. Ages 12+. This event is fully booked but limited tickets are available on the day.

Saturday 21 March 2015

  • Longitude Found! (March 21, 11am - 12noon)

    250 years ago, the men of the Board of Longitude sat around a table to discuss how to spend life-changing sums of government money. With tales of challenges, rewards, skullduggery and sailors lost at sea, Dr Rebekah Higgitt (University of Kent) will tell the story of finding longitude.
    Talk. Ages 15+. Pre-book.

  • Science Festival Maths Open Day (March 21, 12noon - 4pm)

    From Isaac Newton onwards, Cambridge has been associated with some of the most famous mathematicians in history. Modern mathematicians and theoretical physicists work on everything from the Big Bang to prime numbers, fluid dynamics or investigating the spread of disease. Join students and staff from the Faculty of Mathematics to explore the excitement of mathematics and theoretical physics through hands on activities, demonstrations and displays for all ages.
    Hands-on. Ages 8+. No booking needed - drop in throughout the afternoon (12 noon - 4pm).

  • Thinking mathematically (March 21, 12:15pm - 1:15pm)

    Join Charlie Gilderdale to work on some of his favourite mathematical problems from NRICH, and discover that everyone can think mathematically. Come prepared to explore, discuss, conjecture, question, explain and generalise!
    Talk (highly interactive). Ages 11-13. No booking required.

  • The Large Hadron Collider and the dark matter mystery (March 21, 2pm - 3pm)

    The Large Hadron Collider will start operation again at a higher energy at the beginning of 2015. Join Professor Ben Allanach for an introduction to the machine, particle physics, the discovery of the Higgs boson, and what its observations tell us about the mysterious dark matter.
    Talk. Ages 15+. No booking required.

  • Why are stringed instruments so hard to play? (March 21, 6:30pm - 9:45pm)

    The motion of a bowed violin string has been studied since the 19th century, and shows some quite unexpected behaviour. This talk by Professor Jim Woodhouse, University of Cambridge Department of Engineering, will show some examples of how computer modelling combined with acoustic measurements can shed light on playability of bowed-string instruments. This talk is followed by a concert of works by Mussorgsky, Elgar and Tchaikovsky including the cello concerto by Elgar with soloist Olivia da Costa.
    Talk followed by concert. Ages 12+. Pre-book (ticket prices vary).