Lancelot Hogben

No post last week – I seem to have spent the last two weeks on trains or motorways going from one part of the country to the next on various academic related missions so have not had the time to write a post.

So back to business. Dara O’Briain’s Science Club is a new TV series that takes a Top Gearish approach to scientific topics (I often wondered why no one had attempted such an approach before). Last night one of the guests was Lucy Cooke who I’d never come across before but was very entertained by. As her unsung scientific hero she selected Lancelot Hogben as he pioneered the use of the African clawed frog in scientific investigation, including an early method of testing for pregnancy in humans. I had not known this side of him, I know him as the author of Mathematics for the Million.

Lancelot Hogben

Lancelot Hogben (from Library Thing)

I bought a copy of this book from the thirties from a second-hand book shop in Ilford when I was an undergraduate. In its time it was a popular maths best-seller, though I doubt such an equation-packed book would do so well now. To give some idea of the content it starts with mathematics in ancient antiquity and gets up to calculus, modern algebra and probability. I have to confess that I have not read it cover to cover but have read chapters, dipped in here and there and used some material for my own courses. I would love to be able to teach the chapter on Mathematics for the Mariner as it covers a lot of interesting spherical geometry. Maybe some day…

Get the newsletter!

Fancy a newsletter keeping you up-to-date with maths news, articles, videos and events you might otherwise miss? Then sign up below. (No spam and I will never share your details with anyone else.)