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Humble Pi: Maths + facts x laughs = a quirky night out with funny Aussie Matt Parker

A million seconds is 11 days, but a billion seconds is 31 years.

People are not very good at judging the size of large numbers, which may explain the reasons behind some of the highest-profile maths blunders which Aussie comic Matt Parker publicises in the stand-up show he is bringing to Rhodes Arts Complex next Wednesday (October 9).

For instance, in 2012 someone at JPMorgan Chase, the American multinational investment bank, accidentally added two cells in a spreadsheet instead of taking their average and lost the company $2 billion.

Matt Parker. Picture by MIHAELA BODLOVIC (17658234)
Matt Parker. Picture by MIHAELA BODLOVIC (17658234)

Parker’s show Humble Pi explores the greatest mathematical near-misses and mishaps involving planes, bridges, the internet, big data and more.

The 38-year-old recreational mathematician shows his audience all the bizarre ways maths trips us all up. Such as:

  • In 1983, a Canadian flight crew used pounds instead of kilograms and a plane took off with about half the fuel it needed, running out mid-flight;
  • The European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group estimates that 24% of all spreadsheets used in business contain a maths error;
  • 19.6% of genetic research crunched in Excel contains errors where a gene name has been accidentally auto-corrected into a date.
Matt Parker (17658247)
Matt Parker (17658247)

Parker is (possibly) the only person to hold the prestigious title of London Mathematical Society Popular Lecturer while simultaneously having a sold-out comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; he is always keen to mix his two passions of mathematics and stand-up.

He regularly appears on TV and radio to talk about maths and has featured on Discovery’s You Have Been Warned, BBC2’s James May’s Things You Need to Know, Channel 4’s Mating Season and BBC Radio 4’s More or Less.

In 2018, Parker calculated the number pi live on stage in front of a sold-out Royal Albert Hall using a real pie. He is also the first person to use an overhead projector at the Hammersmith Apollo since Pink Floyd.

Matt Parker (17658225)
Matt Parker (17658225)

He is also a YouTube star and his channel StandUpMaths has more than 488,000 subscribers. His most popular video, The Unbeatable Game from the 60s: Dr NIM, has been viewed more than five million times.

The vlogger has also written two books. Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension was unveiled by Penguin in 2014, and his second publication, Humble Pi, was released in March 2019 and was the first maths book to be a No 1 bestseller.

Tickets to the stage adaptation of Humble Pi, on October 9, are available on the Rhodes website at www.rhodesartscomplex.co.uk. They are priced at £16.50 for adults, £14.50 concessions and £12 for school students.

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