At the Oxford Mathematical Institute this week, physicists and mathematicians have been celebrating the 65th birthday of Andrew Hodges, pioneer of twistor diagrams and biographer of Alan Turing. Graham attended the meeting, titled New geometric structures in scattering amplitudes, organised in collaboration with the Clay Mathematics Institute and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The meeting was hugely productive scientifically, with fascinating talks by Hodges, Louis Dolan, Roger Penrose, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Yvonne Geyer, Jaroslav Trnka, and Lauren Williams. Graham, currently researching a book on the relationship between pure mathematics and physics, took the opportunity to talk with several of the speakers.
One of the highlights of the gathering was the conference dinner, which featured speeches by Nick Woodhouse (President of the Clay Institute), Roger Penrose, Nima Arkani-Hamed and Andrew Hodges. In the 1970s, Hodges turned down a post-doc place so that he could work on this Turing book, Penrose recalled, to the amusement of the audience. Yet that decision gave richness to Andrew’s career – he is one of the very few mathematicians to have scored a palpable literary success, soon to be burnished by the forthcoming release of the Turing movie The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.