Marcus Du Sautoy: What we can not know – Review

Professor Marcus du Sautoy came to Canterbury to give a talk at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge about his new book; What We Cannot Know.

First of all, I only got a C in GCSE Maths, and I failed my A Level Chemistry and Biology, so this talk really wasn’t really aimed at me.

Marcus started off his talk by saying that although he is a very well educated man, even he has to google things sometimes! Specifically when journalists ask him questions that aren’t really related to his field.

Oxford University professor Marcus du Sautoy
Oxford University professor Marcus du Sautoy 

Then it started to get confusing. He began talking about Known Unknowns and things we don’t know now, but expect to know in the future. He spoke about how his book is split into 7 ‘edges’ where he explores different things that we do not know and we possibly can not ever know. The 7 edges are: The Casino Dice, The pot of uranium, The Cello The Trumpet, The Wristwatch, The Christmas Cracker and The Chat Bot App.. and he ran out of time so we didn’t get to hear about the other.

His book ‘What we cannot know’ is available on Amazon. 

Marcus captivated the audience during the talk and kept (almost*) everyone interested the entire time.

*The man sitting behind me did fall asleep and start snoring.

He even managed to get a laugh out of the audience with a physics joke about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

Heisenberg was driving on the motorway and a police officer stopped him for speeding. The officer walks up to Heisenberg’s car and asks him, “Sir, do you know how fast you are going?”
Heisenberg said “no but I knew exactly where I was.”
Officer: “Well you were going 200mph!”
Heisenberg: “DOH! Now we’re lost!”

Uncertainty Principle joke 

No… I don’t get it either. He did try and explain, but i just didn’t get it. Sorry!

He ended the talk by answering a few questions from the audience and saying “Maybe there is nothing we cannot know.” Overall it was more enjoyable than i’d expected when i walked into the room knowing nothing about Marcus or his work. I might even buy his new book!


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