We think of creativity as something associated with the arts—dance, music, poetry, etc. That’s why I wanted to talk to Robert Smith?, a mathematician who creates models that help improve disease control. He gained some fame a few years back for modeling zombie outbreaks—and that work has proven useful in the real world. Robert has also written several books about Doctor Who. If you’re skeptical about math as a creative pursuit, or a math agnostic/atheist yourself (I hear you!), I promise you’ll see things differently once you listen to this interview.
(Note: In October 2020, Robert transitioned and is now known as Stacey Smith? Because of the quantity of material predating the transition, Stacey has chosen to credit Robert for items before October 2020.)
For me, math is a tool. Math is something that I use to study infectious diseases, so I effectively think of it as a translation. So I translate from the real world, which is noisy and messy and unpredictable, into the language of mathematics, and because of this access to logic and rigor, then I have a way through the darkness so I can find an answer that I probably wouldn’t have been able to find just in the real world.Robert Smith?
The tale of Robert’s mathematical tattoos (with pictures!)
The Cloister Library (Robert’s guide to Doctor Who books)
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