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Scope Series 4 RTÉ Two, Thursday, 7.00pm

Profile: CÍaran MacanBhaird

CÍaran MacanBhairdWhen he isn’t playing snooker, CÍaran MacanBhaird is a mathematics researcher at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth (NUIM) studying a particular type of complex numbers known as Gaussian sums.

Named for one of the most influential mathematicians in history, Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), Gaussian sums are complex numbers with practical applications, most notably in cryptography and the internet, both of which use large numbers to encode, transmit and protect information. As another example, the way the Mars Explorer beamed back pictures to earth involved Gaussian sums.

GaussGauss, a German known by such lofty labels as “the prince of mathematicians” and “the greatest mathematician since antiquity” was a child prodigy whose talent was evident even as a toddler and made his first groundbreaking discoveries while still in his teens.

Over the course of his lifetime he made significant contributions to numerous maths and science fields including, but not limited to, differential geometry, astronomy, magnetism and optics.

MacanBhaird has always been interested in maths, fascinated with not only the history and antiquity of the discipline but also how it underpins modern technology and much of the natural world. In his current research project MacanBhaird is trying to prove that Gaussian theorems can be applied to an even larger variety of applications.

Despite the myriad potential high tech applications of his work, MacanBhaird prefers to scratch out his sums and ideas the old fashioned way - with pen and paper.

Able to transfer his ability in maths to the billiard parlour, MacanBhaird shoots pool in his spare time and has even won a number of inter college championships playing for Maynooth. However, despite his talent on the table, he has no plans to turn pro at the current time and would rather continue his maths work not in the pool hall but in research and the lecture hall.


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