El desafío #mathyear en español!

El desafio #mathyear empezó el 2019, cuando Marlene Knoche ( @sanguinikDE) me invitó a hacer ilustraciones semanales relacionadas con las matemáticas. La idea era cada semana, hacer un dibujo y postarlo en las redes sociales. Para facilitar la tarea, hicimos una lista de sugerencias para tener un tema para dibujar cada semana. Este 2020 seguimos dibujando y posteando nuestros dibujos. En estos tiempos de aislamiento y cuarentena por el COVID-19, mas que nunca quiero seguir dibujando, y el hacer este “challenge” me permite conectarme con otras personas a traves del hashtag #mathyear.

Si quieres participar, es facil! Sigue estas instrucciones, y dale una mirada a la lista de temas sugerdidos abajo.



Lista de temas Abril- Julio

Abril: las matemáticas como un lenguaje

30.03.-05.04. Noah Chomsky y la jerarquía de Chomsky
06.04.-12.04. Teoría de automatas
13.04.-19.04. Lenguages de programación
20.04.-26.04. Mi fórmula favorita

Mayo: las as matemáticas y la física

27.04.-03.05. Las matemáticas como un lenguaje para la física
04.05.-10.05. Historia de la física
11.05.-17.05. Mi física o físico favorita
18.05.-24.05. Las 3 leyes de Newton
25.05.-31.05. Mecánica cuántica

Junio: el arte y las matemáticas

01.06.-07.06. Geometría
08.06.-14.06. La proporción dorada
15.06.-21.06. Gödel, Escher y Bach
22.06.-28.06. La musica

Julio: las matemáticas y el espacio

29.07.-05.07. Los eclipses
06.07.-12.07. El infinito
13.07.-19.07. La mecánica celeste
20.07.-26.07. Apollo 11
27.07.-02.08. El tiempo y el espacio



#mathyear: a drawing challenge in times of isolation

Last year, Marlene Knoche (@sanguinik.de ) and myself started a one-year drawing challenge on Twitter, with one weekly illustration on a subject related to maths and its interactions: #mathyear. The challenge was keeping a weekly habit for a whole year. I had already successfully done a Twitter drawing challenge for one month, with daily drawings about the life and work of Germany mathematician Emmy Noether, in #Noethember.  Since Marlene is an expert in Computer Science, and I’m a mathematician working in mathematical-physics, I thought it would be a good opportunity to draw, work on a weekly routine, and learn more about other fields, and of course, most importantly, to have fun!

Last year life got in the way, and I couldn’t do fill the whole year with #mathyear, so this year I’started working on it again, and inviting other people to join. And then COVID-19 happened and we find ourselves in (self-imposed or not) quarantine. Last year, with this Twitter challenge I was to connect to other people that were also participating. I would wait every week to see Marlene’s take on the topic. To see other’s take on the topic and see it from different perspectives. So much diversity, and all connected by the hashtag #mathyear.

Now, I’m very excited that my weekly drawings will appear in the French website Images de Mathematiques. You can see the first one here. In these times of distance and of connecting via internet, it can also be used to work with students of all ages (with help), young researchers and old researchers too.

And if you want to participate, then you’ll get in touch with your inner artist and inner mathematician, and remember those times when you were a toddler and you were actually both, so give it a try! maybe learn something new in the process or just doodle around,  it’s simple: see the instructions and the list just below the picture:


List of topics April-July

30.03.-05.04. April, “Language”
Chomsky Hierarchy
Automata Theory
Programming Languages
Favourite Formula/Theorem
27.04.-03.05. May, “Physics”
Math as a Language for Physics
History of Physics
Favourite Physicist
Newtons’s three laws of motion
Quantum Mechanics
01.06.-07.06. June, “Art” Geometry
08.06.-14.06. Golden Ratio
Gödel Escher Bach
22.06.-28.06. Music
29.07.-05.07. July, “Space” Eclipse
06.07.-12.07. Infinity
Celestial Mechanics
20.07.-26.07. Apollo 11
27.07.-02.08. Space and Time



Graphic summary of Eugenia Cheng’s radio interview

Last January,  mathematician Eugenia Cheng was interviewed in the BBC Radio 4 show “The Life Scientific”, where she talked about her career and her choices as a prolific mathematician-musician-science communicator. I saw her giving a talk at the Imaginary Conference 2016 in Berlin, and it was inspiring to see her on stage doing maths, music and science communication. Continue reading Graphic summary of Eugenia Cheng’s radio interview

Blogging at last year’s Heidelberg Laureate Forum

In 2016, I participated in the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF17) as a postdoc, and I was as excited to meet the most brilliant mathematicians of our times as to see the press room filled with expert science communicators and journalists keeping the outside world updated of the events at HLF.  The following year I couldn’t believe my luck when I was accepted to be part of the blog team for the HLF 2017 to illustrate and do graphic recording during the event. I was priviledge to work alongside brilliant science communicators, as this excited twitt shows:

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Next to me, from left to right: Nana Liu, Alaina Levine, Katie Steckles, Ben Orlin and Paul Taylor

It was one of the most amazing experiences, like an intense, exciting and exhausting one-week internship in sci comm. I was in the Press room, I was listening to brilliant minds talking about the future of maths and computer science, and drawing it all, watching next to me experienced science communicators working at their best. What else could a I wish for?… well, to do it again!



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And there’s more! I gathered enough material to keep me busy after the HLF17 was over, but that’s for another post.

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum- a graphic summary

Last year I attended the 4th Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF). I would often get the e-mail announcements, but as soon as I would read it was intended for “promising young researchers”, I would stop reading. I never considered myself promising, and certainly not young. Not to the standards I see around me. However, a professor* at the university where I did my first postdoc forwarded it to me, adding “this is for you!”. How come his idea of me could be so different from my own, was unknown to me. In an answer that felt almost like a dare, I said I would apply only if he would write a letter of support. Which he did, so I applied. I did it with my best intentions, with a deep, but temporary conviction. As soon as I clicked the submit button, the feeling faded to thinking I had no chance to get in. It looked like a huge fancy event, anyway. How would I fit there? I’m a mathematician, sobriety is part of my craft.

I was invited to the 4th HLF, together with 199 other promising young researchers. And I made the best of it. I arrived feeling a bit uncomfortable, but determined to learn from this one-in-a-lifetime experience. And I did, and there was nothing to be anxious about. I appreciated the efforts of the organizers and the supporting staff to build a space of trust, where all participants could meet. Starting with the laureates, everybody was eager to talk, to open up, to be interested in one another.

That’s why I feel so extremely lucky to be attending this year’s 5th HLF. This time not as a researcher, but as part of the English Blog Team. As a warm-up, I wanted to share my impressions of last year’s HLF. Scroll down!

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This wouldn’t have been possible without recommendation letters for my HLF application! Thanks to François Germinet (Cergy-Pontoise) for his continual support.

*Thanks to Thomas Østergaard Sørensen (Munich) for encouraging me to apply to the HLF and for his support.





Saturday July 15, 2017. When the news struck in the early morning, I was getting my desk and my drawing tools ready to do a graphic summary of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum 2016, where I participated as a postdoc. The news was a shock: Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to have been awarded the Fields Medal had died of cancer at age 40.

This event is tragic on many levels, and this is a huge loss for science. But while I was preparing to draw about the Heidelberg Forum, all I could think of was, the participants of the forum will never get to meet Maryam Mirzakhani. The motto of the event “Laureates of mathematics and computer science meet the next generation” will never include her, the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the biggest recognition in mathematics. I remembered the “next generation”, those young undergrads, graduate students and postdocs that I met in 2016, looking in awe at these laureates and showering them with questions about research and their life in academia. There was suddenly a sad hole in the idea of scientific events where young people meet senior researchers.

The mailing list of the European Women in Mathematics (EWM) became active with messages of condolences and soon the observation came about that the first woman to receive the Fields Medal was probably the first laureate to die so soon. Mirzakhani’s award was at the same time a recognition for the whole community of female mathematicians. The avalanche of publicity that came after her prize was good for mathematicians (perhaps not too good for her), because that led the media to talk about maths, and the under representation of women in maths. Her loss had touched in particular the community of women in maths. For me, hers was also a loss for the movement among scientists and artists that tries to highlight the role of drawings in the process of doing and communicating science.

As explained in this excellent interview in Quanta magazine, she often drew her maths constructions in big sheets of paper . “Doodling helps her focus” reads the interview. Drawing is often overlooked or not taken seriously by the academic community. Currently, outside our scholarly bubble, there is a boom of creative practices, like illustration and graphic design, where visualization is considered a powerful instrument for communicating (for ex. graphic facilitation). In academia, there is a growing number of initiatives pointing in that direction (for ex. ERCComics and  Cartoon Science). The blog you area reading right now, The Rage of the Blackboard, is a modest contribution in that direction. Scientists do not seem to weigh the power of drawing as a tool, but there is such a big graphic component when we think science that we don’t notice. Mirzakhani did notice, and drew in big sheets of paper.

The impact of the achievements in her short-lived career makes her an icon. Now, we expect an avalanche of tributes and articles in the news and in math events. But Mirzakhani is not the only brilliant female mathematician out there, and meetings where young people are encouraged to exchange with established researchers would benefit immensely from inviting female laureates that are not necessarily Fields or Nobel prize winners. These gatherings could include among their speakers, for example, female winners of the EMS prize and equivalent prizes from other continents. Let us not wait patiently for another woman Fields medalist. Let us meet and learn from the brilliant women we have around us, and celebrate their achievements now.  And perhaps, even doodle science together in big sheets of paper.