As we know, the heart has two atria, of unequal sizes, with a barrier between them. The smaller right atrium is involved with pumping blood through the lungs, while the larger left atrium handles the rest of the body.

This is pretty much the setup in our new Andrew Wiles mathematics building at Oxford, which will open officially next week. The pure mathematicians have offices in the right atrium, and the applied ones on the left. I guess this means pure maths is the lungs, bringing in the oxygen of new ideas, and applied maths is the body, applying the oxygen to do some work? With a cafeteria in-between.

[30 September 2013]

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