Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The magic of "i"

 An exciting math event occurred last week -- the opening of MoMath
a Manhattan museum that makes math fun.
Still thinking about complex and imaginary numbers (see Sue VanHattum's poem in the December 16 posting), I want to offer a couple of stanzas by Paul Hartal -- selected from "Voyage around the Square Root of Minus 1"  -- stanzas that are part of a lengthy consideration of connections between the arts and the sciences.  I do not always agree with Hartal's viewpoints -- but they are interesting to consider.

from  Voyage around the Square Root of Minus One     by Paul Hartal 

. . .  Mathematical equations are embedded
       with mysterious forces
       and their uncanny power transcends
       the cognitive faculties of the human mind.

       A case in point concerns
       a highly effective but bizarre
       mathematical concept, the imaginary number
       of the square root of minus one,
       marked with the humble symbol, "i".

       This number is a precise mathematical idea,
       and at the same time a poetic celebration
       of absurdity, because it hails from
       a genderless state of an outlandish kingdom.
       "i" is neither positive nor negative.
       It exists in spite of itself,
       percolating through the faulty filters
       of remote stars of another galaxy.             . . .

Hartal is a Canadian writer and artist, born in Hungary.  This poem is found in its entirety at Poem-Hunter.com.


  1. Dear JoAnne Growney,

    Thank you for posting stanzas from my poem.

    Agreeing to disagree can bring forth its own constructive sprouts.And, as my friend the Philosopher and Artist Eric Wesselow would say,

    If you agree with me,
    I’ll be flattered;
    If you disagree,
    I’ll bee honoured.