“In the stomach of a blue whale 30 kilos of plastic have been found: How much would that be if a person swallows just as much in relation to their own body weight?” With this question, Tom Crawford from Oxford began his guest lecture at Hebel-Gymnasium. The students calculated that there would be six (empty) plastic shopping bags in the human stomach. Very impressive were also the other results, which were developed in the course of the highly entertaining presentation.

Tom Crawford has not only rock music as a hobby, but he also looks like a rock star with his tattoos and piercing – but his tattoos have to do with math: Since, for example, the decimal places of “e” (Euler number) wind around the arm or the number pi has been encrypted as an infinite series. On his Youtube channel “Tom rocks math” he presents science in a fun way – the clothes shreds sometimes fly during the striptease: “I want to show that math is not always only downright serious, but fun.”

The mathematics lecturer is currently in Heidelberg as part of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum. This is where the best math and computer scientists in the world meet up with junior researchers and journalists. At the invitation of mathematics teacher Birgit Schillinger Crawford came to Schwetzingen. He had brought exciting questions. The common thread was Tom’s favorite number pi, which is used in so many formulas. How many table tennis balls are needed to lift the sunken Titanic off the ground? What factors are involved when a football player cuts a ball so that it flies past the wall in the arch in the arch? When calculating the trajectory, several physical variables play a role. But how? Crawford was studying mathematics. His doctoral thesis was on fluid mechanics: What paths does a river take when it flows into a sea? The findings help to understand the pollution of the oceans and possibly stop it.

In the end, the Hebelians make platonic bodies, of which, surprisingly, there are only five. Strange? No, Tom explains the number with the sum of angles at the corners – all very logical! Finally, a student question, which has impressed Tom the most in mathematics: “It is terrific, as follows from the Maxwell equations, which deal first with electricity and magnetism, only with the help of mathematics, the wave property of the light. Math is just awesome! “

*Birgit Schillinger*

The original article in Schwetzingen can be found here.

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