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Margaret Wertheim / Institute For Figuring
(born 1958, Brisbane, Australia).
Margaret Wertheim is a science writer, curator and the author of books on the cultural history of physics and perception.

In 2003, she and her twin sister Christine founded the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles-based organisation that explores the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science and mathematics. From the physics of snowflakes and the hyperbolic geometry of sea slugs, to the mathematics of paper folding, the tiling patterns of Islamic mosaics and graphical models of the human mind, the Institute explores the manifestation of figures in the world around us and the figurative technologies that humans have developed through the ages. One of the Institute's interdisciplinary projects is the 'Hyperbolic Coral Reef', a large-scale, constantly mutating series of crochets that replicate the forms of natural coral. Developing organically, the reef is made by an ever-expanding group of participants from around the world. More than 5,000 people worldwide, including visitors to Hayward Gallery, have actively contributed to 'Coral Reef' exhibitions conceived by Margaret and Christine.
Theoretical and practical explorations of space
In these one-day intensive courses, you can explore the history of Western scientific thinking about space from Descartes to string theory, asking how do mathematicians and physicists conceive of space?

Morning classes focus on theory, introducing foundational concepts in geometry and their application to physics. In the afternoon you engage in hands-on exercises that give experiential insight into the nature of space through techniques such as cut-and-paste construction and paper folding.

Class Schedule - Morning Theoretical Class [10am–12noon]
June 12 - Day 1: Foundational Concepts in Geometry and Topology

Over the past 200 years, mathematicians have developed entire languages for describing spatial structures. The two branches of this field are geometry and topology. In this class we will discuss different types of geometry and the difference between euclidean and non-euclidean geometries. Then we will move on to the subject of topology, ending with a revelation about holes and the topological genus of male and female bodies.
June 13 - Day 2: What is a Dimension?
What does it mean to say that something has 2 dimensions, or 3? The concept of a dimension is one of the foundational ideas in modern physics. Here we will explore the history of this idea from Descartes to the contemporary concept of multi-dimensional phase space. We will conclude with a look at fractional dimensionality and fractals.
June 14 - Day 3: What is the spatial structure of our Universe.
Does our universe have an architecture? If so what are its geometric and topological properties? Here we will look at the history of Western thinking about the space of physical reality, beginning with the Middle Ages, then working our way though the innovations of Galileo, Newton and Einstein and concluding with ideas about hyperspace and string theory.
Class Schedule - Afternoon Practical Class [2pm–5pm]
June 12 - Day 1: Foundational Concepts in Geometry and Topology

Here we will construct various geometrical and topological forms using paper cutouts. Materials will be supplied.
June 13 - Day 2: What is a Dimension?
Here we will learn how to make a Level One Menger Sponge fractal out of business cards. This class is based on techniques developed by engineer Dr. Jeannine Mosely, inventor of Business Card Origami. Materials will be supplied.
June 14 - Day 3: What is the spatial structure of our Universe.
We will continue our exploration of fractals using business cards. The class as a whole will be invited to build a business card fractal world. Freeform interpretation will be encouraged.
Price: £10
Concessions: 50% of (limited availability)

Venue: Hayward Gallery Lecture Theatre

Approximate duration: 7 hours including breaks