The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


Dr Hannah Fry on the beauty of equations

19 February 2014


After a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that mathematicans have an emotional reaction to 'beautiful' equations, CASA's own Hannah Fry was invited to share her thoughts on the matter with newshour on the BBC world service.

The original work was conducted at the Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology at UCL and measured the brain images as 15 mathematicians were asked  to react to 60 'ugly' and 'beautiful' equations. In all of the candidates, the  emotional brain centres used to appreciate art or music were also shown to be activated by "beautiful" maths.

Hannah Fry, who was trained as a mathematician and now works as a lecturer in the mathematics of cities, explained her experience of finding equations beautiful to host James Menendez​ and BBC listeners, describing understanding an equation as "looking at an absolute truth".

Listen to Hannah speaking on Newshour here.