Sutton Coldfield mathematician takes chocolate fountain research to Parliament

Adam Townsend, 25, a PhD student at UCL, hailing from Sutton Coldfield, is attending Parliament to present his maths research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of SET for Britain on Monday 9 March.

adam townsend

Adam’s poster on research about the mathematics of chocolate fountains will be judged against dozens of other mathematicians’ research in the only national competition of its kind.

Adam was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.

On presenting his research in Parliament, he said, “Finally all our chocolate fountain questions have been answered, and with mathematics, no less. We figured out why chocolate fountains fall slightly inwards (the same reason teapots drip), and we discovered what other liquids we could put through it (think ketchup, mayonnaise or even blood fountains). It’s serious maths applied to a fun problem, and I’ve been talking about it at mathematics enrichment events around London for the last couple of years. If I can convince one person that maths is more than Pythagoras’ Theorem, I’ll have succeeded. Of course, the same mathematics has a wide use in numerous other important industries, but none of them are quite as tasty as chocolate.”

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said, “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.

“These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Adam’s research has been entered into the Mathematics session of the competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony.

Judged by leading academics, the gold medalist receives £3,000, while silver and bronze receive £2,000 and £1,000 respectively.

Sir Adrian Smith, Chair of the Council for the Mathematical Sciences (CMS), said: “The CMS is delighted that the mathematical sciences have been involved in this prestigious event for the second, successive year; it is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the importance of the mathematical sciences to a wider audience. It is paramount to encourage early-career research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians and the SET for Britain event is a very effective way of doing this. We have been encouraged by the enthusiastic response from early-career researchers in the mathematical sciences and feel sure this will this continue in the future”.

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee run the event in collaboration with the Council for Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Biology and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Essar, INEOS, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Wiley, the Bank of England and the Institute of Biomedical Science.