Random Walks: the Art of the Ashmolean through a mathematician’s eyes

The University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum is not only an exhibitor of art, but home to vital artistic research. The museum’s collections are investigated by some of the world’s leading historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and… mathematicians?

Throughout November 2016, the Ashmolean Museum and Oxford Mathematics proudly present Random Walks, a series of short films that present the historical world through mathematical eyes.

Our aim is to bring the humanities and sciences closer together, whilst demonstrating that historical museums are extremely useful for providing context to the development of logical thinking. What problems did humanity face throughout the millennia? How did science develop to surmount these problems? Why do remnants of these ideas remain important to this very day?

Join us as we answer these and many other questions and, hopefully, by the end, we will demonstrate that while mathematics may tell us how the universe began, it takes a museum to show us our place within it.

In our first film, Oxford Mathematics’ Thomas E. Woolley, takes you on a tour through the Ashmolean’s collection of mathematical tablets from the time of the ancient Babylonians. Thomas investigates how mistakes in mathematics can be just as illuminating as correct answers.

If you want to know more about the calculations presented in the film please click here