Margaret Wertheim is Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in Science Communication, The University of Melbourne. She is an internationally noted writer and exhibition curator whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. The author of six books, including ‘The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace,’ a groundbreaking exploration of the history of Western concepts of space from Dante to the Internet.
Wertheim is the founder and director of the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles-based organization devoted to the aesthetic and poetic dimensions of mathematics and science. (www.theiff.org) Through the IFF, she has designed exhibitions for galleries and museums in a dozen countries, including the Hayward Gallery in London and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The IFF’s “Crochet Coral Reef” project – spearheaded by Margaret and twin sister Christine – is the largest participatory science-and-art endeavor in the world, and has been shown at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), the Science Gallery (Dublin), New York University Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere. Through an unlikely conjunction of handicraft and geometry, the Crochet Coral Reef offers a window into mathematics while addressing the issue of reef degradation due to global warming. Wertheim’s TED talk on the topic has been viewed more than a million times, and translated into 20 languages, including Arabic.