Mathematics Videos with the LMS

In the entry “Promotion: 2 – Mathematics” I made reference to the videos that I had made in conjunction with the London Mathematical Society (LMS). These came about for two reasons. Firstly we had made the departmental promotional video, as seen in that previous blog. This was not a huge success and we needed an alternative way to promote the department. The second reason  was that a member of the Maths Department was connected with the LMS, who ran their Popular Lectures at Imperial College each year. He asked if I could record these lectures when they were taking place. As most people who know me will know, I am never very keen on the ‘live’ recording of lectures or presentations. This is because I would have no control over them and couldn’t start or stop the event to get the best version for the recording. After all, if you are going to watch a video of a lecture, you want to see it at its best AND be presented to YOU, not a group of people you can’t see or interact with. If you have ever watched the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures then you may appreciate the great control the TV broadcasters have over its content and tight scripting. Any mistakes or problems are taken care of at the time of the lecture and if needs be everything is stopped.

So, I suggested a few things. One, was that the videos should be recorded to help promote Maths in general and the Maths Department at Imperial at the same time. Two, was that the videos should be recorded in the studio, FOR television and direct to camera. So in July 1986 we recorded the first LMS Popular Lecture called “Games Animals Play”. We recorded two lectures, one after the other to coincide with the LMS lecturers being at Imperial for that evenings event. We usually recorded one in the morning and one in the early afternoon. We went on to record 18 in total, ending in 1997 when the lectures ceased to be held at Imperial College.

As soon as I can, I will transfer all of the videos from the original tapes into digital form. In the meanwhile here is just one of those lectures from June 1996, Peter Hilton’s “New wine in old bottles”. Peter Hilton (7 April 1923 – 6 November 2010) was a British mathematician, noted for his contributions to homotopy theory and for code-breaking during the Second World War.


Colin Grimshaw 2012

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