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Preparing for Cambridge


My artistic mother
Michael Atiyah Mathematician
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Well, my mother, as I say, her father died when she was quite young, so she tended to live with her mother and her brother. My uncle became a classics don at Oxford, and it was through him that my mother met my father, because they lived in Oxford. And she had studied drawing – she went to the Ruskin School – drawing… and quite talented artistically… and did a fair amount of work later on, not on a major scale, but for people locally in Khartoum and [so] on. She was, I think, very disappointed that her children didn't seem to inherit her artistic talents, but so she was… her interests were very much on the arts side.

Eminent British mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah (1929-2019) broke new ground in geometry and topology with his proof of the Atiyah-Singer Index Theorem in the 1960s. This proof led to new branches of mathematics being developed, including those needed to understand emerging theories like supergravity and string theory.

Listeners: Nigel Hitchin

Professor Nigel Hitchin, FRS, is the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, since 1994, and was appointed to the Savilian Professorship of Geometry in October 1997. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1991 and from 1994 until 1996 was President of the London Mathematical Society.

His research interests are in differential and algebraic geometry and its relationship with the equations of mathematical physics. He is particularly known for his work on instantons, magnetic monopoles, and integrable systems. In addition to numerous articles in academic journals, he has published "Monopoles, Minimal Surfaces and Algebraic Curves" (Presses de l'Universite de Montreal, 1987) and "The Geometry and Dynamics of Magnetic Monopoles" (Princeton University Press, 1988, with Michael Atiyah).

Tags: Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford

Duration: 42 seconds

Date story recorded: March 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008