Maths for money: The Longitude Prize

The question “why do you do maths?” sparks a flurry of emotions. The mind struggles to formulate an explanation that feels even remotely adequate; and the final answer leaves a lingering buzz of frustration as the eyes of the questioner remain unlit by the same fire that burns within you.

There are, of course, earthly, comprehensible, easy-to-describe reasons that drive us. There is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics, but Cédric Villani’s Birth of a Theorem speaks of the author’s obsession with winning its mathematical equivalent: the Fields Medal.

Then, occasionally, monetary prizes are offered for the solution of mathematical problems.

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