Dr Christian Yates


Public Engagement

The Times

I've written a few articles for the Times' Science magazine Eureka.

The most recent ones are:
A degree of attitude which is about the mathematics behind the Olympic Games.
Truly uplifting which explains the mathematics of flight.

Everything is Mathematical

As part of the launch of a series of books called "Everything is Mathematical" I've teamed up with the Times to set a couple of maths problems inspired by real world situations.
The problem and the solution to my first teaser, about polytunnels, can be found here.

Dara O'Briain's Scool of Hard Sums

I was one of the chief mathematical consultants on the innovative comedy/maths fusion programme Dara O'Briain's Scool of Hard Sums.

As part of the role I came up with the questions set to Dara and the Guest comedian's on the show.
I also help devise the Homework questions and was in charge of the development of the Quiz of Hard Sums.
Come and have a go if you think you're smart enough!
I was also in charge of setting the problems for the advertising campaign which appeared on the radio, on billboards and in the national press.
The show has just been commissioned for another series. We have finished filming and are currently in post-production.
I am again in charge of the national avertising campaign for the show.

Bang goes the theory

I recently appeared on the BBC's flagship science programme Bang Goes the Theory with Dr Yan Wong discussing properties of a special set of curves called the conic sections.

These curves are the shapes made by the rim of a cone when you cut it (see figure below). They have all sorts of practical applications, but I'll let you watch the video to find out.


The conic sections, curves in green, are the curves you get when you slice through a cone. They are called (1) the parabola, (2) the ellipse (of which a circle is a special case) and (3) the hyperbola.

Marcus' Marvellous Mathemagicians


I work with the Oxford University Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Marcus Du Sautoy as part of his 'Mathemagicians' group (M3). We run workshops, activities and give talks about maths to a wide range of audiences.
As part of this group I have had the opportunity to give several high-profile popular maths talks:

  • Mathemusica: I gave the opening talk at the Oxfordshire Science Festival on the mathematics of music.
  • An ABC of 123: Held at Science Oxford. I gave a short talk on the counterintuitive phenomenon of exponential growth.
  • The Winning Streak: We give an interactive work shop (based on Marcus Du Sautoy's 2006 Royal Institute Christmas lectures) that has toured schools the length and breadth of the country.

  • The group have gained some notoriety and featured in various news media:

  • Oxford Mail - TV professor adds a little magic to maths

  • BBC South (TV) - South Today (about half-way through).

  • Oxford University Science Blog -
    Inside the mathemagical labyrinth - University of Oxford
    Return of the Roadshow: 2009
    Pitching science in a tent,
  • STEM ambassador

    I am a registerred STEM (Sceicne Technology Engineering and Mathematics) ambassador. As part of this excellent scheme I do out-reach events in schools, museums and a variety of other interesting places:

  • Royal Institution Family Fun day - The mathematics of food: Cutting, weighing and chocolate.

  • The Cowley Road Carnival - Wisdom of the crowds and the mathematics of communication.

  • Schools out-reach day at St Hugh's College, Oxford.

  • Opening of the Oxfordshire Science Festival 2010.

  • Schools out-reach day at St Gregory the Great school, Oxford.

  • Schools out-reach day at University College, Oxford.


  • WOW! HOW?

    Each March the Natural History Museum in Oxford run a science event. Scientist from all walks of life come together to man stalls each illustrating a different area of scientific enquiry. These areas range from demonstrations of the extreme cold properties of liquid nitrogen to extracting DNA from strawberries. This year I organised and ran the "Bernouilli effect" stall. We demonstrated Bernoulli's principle, that faster moving air has a lower pressure. This has some important results; from keeping planes in the air (air moves faster over the top of the wing and slower underneath creating a "lift force") to causing a free-kick to curve (the spin of the ball effects the air flow around the ball and causes a lower pressure on one side than the other which makes it move). We found a really simple demonstration of this using a household drinking straw and a polystyrene ball (see the picture below).


    The air moves faster in the middle of the flow and slower the further away from the centre of the straw you go meaning that the pressure is higher away from the centre of the flow. Everytime the ball tries to move away from the centre of the flow is gets pushed back by the higher pressure. Have a go yourself at home!

    Other Articles

    From April 2010-January 2011 I was a sub-editor on the Oxford University science magazine, Bang! I edit several articles for each issue and write a few as well.

    11/2010 - "The domino effect : Teasing out the hidden mathematics of dominos."
    06/2010 - "1,2,3 and away ... : Counting to infinity and beyond."
    03/2010 - "The Poetry of Pi."

    I also have an article due to appear on the popular maths website plus.

    Funny Maths Pictures

    03/2010 - I won the Funny Maths Image competition run by Ignition and Camouflaged learning.
    Here's my winning entry and a few of the others I put forwards. Whilst I designed these they are not all my original ideas. Please feel to use any of them if you think they'd be useful. Let me know if you use them for anything interesting.

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