The 'Monster of Symmetry' is a giant snowflake in 196,884 dimensions - with a beautiful structure which may turn out to unlock the very fabric of our universe. The story of the hunt for the monster, and its eventual discovery, became the biggest joint mathematical project of all time - involving determination, luck, and some very extraordinary characters.
Mark Ronan is a Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was Visiting Professor of Mathematics at University College London, having held previous academic positions in Berlin, in Braunschweig, and in Birmingham where he was Mason Professor of Mathematics in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In his early career he worked on the fringes of the Classification program and knew personally all the main people involved in the modern part of this story. His work is now on geometric structures exhibiting symmetry, on which he has written numerous research papers and a textbook published by Academic Press in 1989. Besides mathematics, Mark reads Babylonian cuneiform and has a great love for music. He has acted in more than a dozen operas at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and danced in The Nutcracker.