Monday, May 22, 2017

My Math Teacher

     The 2016-2017 school year is drawing to a close.  Some are loving their math teachers and some are celebrating them with poetry.  Here are the opening stanzas of a poem by Mia Pratt about her teacher -- the complete poem is found at here (at PoetrySoup.com).

     My Math Teacher     by Mia Pratt

     My math teacher was such a colorful character
     she was the queen of Mathematics at our school
     she loved linear regressions and probability
     and permutations and combinations too!

     My math teacher loved to
     entertain us with her Listerine coated smile
     and her heart as pure
     as the golden sand on Small Hope Bay
     she loved making calculus and matrices fun for us
     while March 14th was her second Christmas
     and grading our exams was her New Year's Day!
              . . .

Poet and novelist John Updike (1932-2009) was a math teacher's son  -- here is a link to his sonnet, "Midpoint," about his father.  Additional poems about teachers may be found using the blog SEARCH.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Mathematics" & "Poetry" in the same sentence!

Thanks to Google for helping me find things -- for example, this quote from Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun :

     Poetry is a form of mathematics,
               a highly rigorous relationship with words.

And this quote from American poet Carl Sandburg (1872-1962):

     Poetry is a mystic, sensuous mathematics of fire, smoke-stacks, 
               waffles, pansies, people, and purple sunsets. 

For more about Jelloun, here is a Wikipedia link.  
This link leads to my 2012 posting of Sandburg's poem, "Number Man."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Solve for X . . . and understand . . .

     In this morning's email, today's Poem-a-Day from poets.org has the mathy title, "Solve for X." Written by Oliver de la Paz  -- born in the Philippines and raised in Ontario, Oregon -- and teaching at the College of the Holy Cross, de la Paz introduces "Solve for X" with these words: 

“‘Solve for X’ is part of a sequence of poems about my son who’s on the autistic spectrum. I’ve been attempting to understand the way he perceives the world and I’ve been using cause and effect models as poetic templates. Word problems requiring the mathematician to solve for an unknown, thus, have become a metaphor for how we negotiate our relationship as father and son.”

Please go here to read (or to listen to) de la Paz's poem about trying to understand the unknown.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Links to poems and songs with STEM themes

     During April 2017, Indiana State Poet Laureate Shari Wagner teamed with Indiana Humanities to feature the work of Hoosier poets to celebrate April as National Poetry Month.  This humanities website posts a poem each day and in honor of  Quantum Leap -- a Humanities program focused on bringing together STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and the Humanities - the poem featured each Monday in April had a STEM-related theme.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Using SONGS to teach STEM -- online conference

     A recent email from Greg Crowther has let me know of an upcoming conference that looks to be LOTS OF FUN -- an interdisciplinary virtual conference on the use of song in teaching STEM subjects.  The conference is "VOICES: Virtual Ongoing Interdisciplinary Conferences on Educating with Song"  -- the dates are Sept. 27-28, 2017, the conference is entirely online, the registration cost is $10.  Early registration is encouraged to allow time for preparation and submission of presentation proposals.
     Song lyrics often are poetry and in this blog we have included lyrics on a variety of occasions.  Here are links to several lyrics featured herein.
          "The Derivative Song" by Tom Lehrer,
           Lines from "Mandlebrot Set" by Jonathan Coulton,
          "Circle Song" and lines from "Hotel Infinity"  by Larry Lesser (who is one of the featured VOICES speakers),
          "Questions You Can't Ever Decide" and two others by Bill Calhoun.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Save the Climate, change STEM to STEAM

     Australian poet Erica Jolly is one of the leaders of the STEM to STEAM movement in Australia -- she has introduced me to The Conversation, and, in it, this interesting and relevant article, "Did Artists Lead the Way in Mathematics?"
     For many years a secondary school teacher in South Australia, Jolly has written Challenging the Divide:  Approaches to Science and Poetry (Lythrum Press, 2010) -- a book that is rich with citations and arguments for integrating the arts and the sciences -- and includes a variety of poems.  Also rich with math-science content is Jolly's poetry collection, Making a Stand (Wakefield Press, 2015).
     And here is one of Jolly's recent poems -- sent to me with this comment:   Here's a poem - it deals with numbers in my way. Someone can do the multiplication.   Best wishes  Erica

A Significant Cabinet Change by the Prime Minister
in this New Coalition Government                           by Erica Jolly

And reading “Lab Girl: A story of trees, science and love”
by Hope Jahren, published by Fleet, in the UK, 2016.
Professor Jahren was named in 2005 as one of the
“Brilliant 10” young scientists. Geobiology is
her area of study and she is now a tenured
Professor at the University of Hawai’i.   

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Speaking out for Immigrants, McNish

        British spoken-word poet Hollie McNish has shouted out in verse in support of  immigration.  Her poem, from which I include some lines below, is entitled "Mathematics" and a video of McNish performing the poem is available here at the poet's webpage.  Thanks, Hollie McNish, for making important noise on this important issue.

from   Mathematics     by Hollie McNish
            . . .
       Man
       I am sick of crappy mathematics
       Cos I love a bit of sums
       I spent three years into economics 
       And I geek out over calculus    

Monday, May 1, 2017

April, 2017 -- and prior -- titles, dates of posts

 Celebrate MAY  with a MATHY POEM --
many may be found here in this blog!  Scroll down for titles of posts!  

If you are looking for mathy poems on a particular topic, the SEARCH box in the right-column may help you find them. For example, here is a link to posts found when I searched using the term "parallel."  And here are posts that include the term "angle."   To find a list of additional useful search terms, scroll down the right-hand column

       Apr 28  March for Climate -- again! 
       Apr 26  Math-Arts Journal -- Free Access 
       Apr 20  Remembering Karl Patten 
       Apr 18  Poetry by Victorian Scientists 

Friday, April 28, 2017

March for Climate -- again!

       The lines below are copied from a posting made on September 20, 2014 -- posted as I finalized plans to travel to New York City for a climate march.  From that March I saw some positive action BUT I am grieving over the changes in the last 100 days.

     To have a small carbon footprint I will march tomorrow with only a small sign -- one that wears a 3x3-square reminder that dates back to a 1968 essay, "Tragedy of the Commons,"  by ecologist Garrett Hardin (1915-2003). 

       There   is   no
       place to throw
       that ' s   away.

WHY is it taking us so long to act to preserve a habitable planet?  Do we not care about the world we are leaving for our grandchildren?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Math-Arts Journal -- Free Access

     Sometimes an email contains a wonderful gift -- such was the case recently when I got a message from the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts giving me access AT THIS LINK to a generous collection of outstanding articles from the 10-year history of this important publication.  One of the articles relates to poetry:  Niccolò Tartaglia's poetic solution to the cubic equation, by Arielle Saiber of Bowdoin College in Maine.
     The collection of free articles notes this history of JMA:  "The journal took shape following a meeting arranged by the late Reza Sarhangi at the 2005 Bridges [Math-Arts] Conference, where Kate Watt from Taylor & Francis met with a group of interested conference participants. Following a group proposal led by Gary Greenfield, the journal launched in 2007 with Gary as editor for the first five volumes. Craig S Kaplan then took over as editor in 2012, until he handed the reins to current editor Mara Alagic at the beginning of 2017.  BIG THANKS to all of you for this noteworthy journal!

Here, from Saiber's article, are a few lines from 
          Veronica Gavagna's translation of Tartaglia's Quando chel cubo:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Poetry and Science -- Allies in Discovery

     Poet Jane Hirshfield read onstage as part of the March for Science in Washington, DC on Saturday April 22.   Science and poetry both arise from the same desire for exploration, Hirshfield opined.  “If you don’t think at all, you think of them as opposites,” she said. “They are allies in discovery.”
     Hirshfield's staged poem, "On the 5th Day," appeared in the Washington Post a few days before the march.    Here are its opening stanzas (visit the Post link for the complete work.)
 
       On the Fifth Day     by Jane Hirshfield

       On the fifth day
       the scientists who studied the rivers
       were forbidden to speak
       or to study the rivers.


       The scientists who studied the air
       were told not to speak of the air,    

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Remembering Karl Patten

     From my Lewisburg, PA friend, Ruta Karelis, I have recently learned of the April 16  death of my beloved first poetry teacher, Bucknell professor and poet, Karl Patten (1927-2017).  Karl's oft-repeated phrase (and poem title) "Every Thing Connects"  -- found on my shelf in The Impossible Reaches (Dorcas Press, 1992) -- is on my mind daily.  Another poem from that collection -- "The Play" -- I am reading and rereading today, remembering the poet.  Here it is, from Karl Patten, for you.

The Play     by Karl Patten

You're tired?  I'm tired too.  Let's forget we're people, forget all that.

You be a horizon, infinite, flat, a forever-place,
I'll be double, gray-blue ocean, gray-blue sky, touching you, just. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Poetry by Victorian Scientists

     Thanks to Greg Coxson who has recently alerted me to this 2011 article by Paul Collins in New Scientist, "Rhyme and reason: The Victorian poet scientists."  In the article, Collins is reviewing an anthology edited by Daniel Brown entitled The Poetry of Victorian Scientists: Style, Science and Nonsense (Cambridge University Press, Reprint-2015).
     The article has links to poetry by James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), William J. Macquorn Rankine (1820-1872), and James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897).  Below I offer two of the eight entertaining stanzas from Rankine's poem, "The Mathematician in Love." (This poem and Maxwell's "A Lecture on Thomson's Galvanometer" also appear in the wonderful anthology that Sarah Glaz and I edited -- Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008, now available as an e-book.)

from  The Mathematician in Love     by William J Macquorn Rankine  

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Fib for Easter

     Recently a reader commented privately to me that she did not like the Fib as a poem-style since it seems to allow almost any prose statement to be formed into a poem.  My opposite reaction to her comment stems, in part, from my use of the Fib with workshop students -- many of them join me with delight at the way the Fib syllable-count format has guided them to pleasing word-selections.  
     As Easter approaches, my thoughts have been shaped into these lines:

          Soon
          comes
          Easter,
          holiday
          to celebrate spring's
          victory of life over death. 
 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mathematics and Poetry are . . .

     This week between Palm Sunday and Easter is a school vacation week for six of my grandchildren -- Carly and Emma, Shaya and Daniel, Serena and Caroline -- who live in the Washington, DC area.  And so I am enjoying their company rather than developing new blog posts.  But I do have a few relevant Poetry-Math words (found at goodreads.com) from Amit Ray:

“Mathematics and poetry are the two ways
 to drink the beauty of truth.”
― Amit Ray

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Prime -- with rhythm and rhyme

     Earlier this year, an email from James D. Herren let me know about his recent e-book, Wit and Wonder, Poetry with Rhythm and Rhyme --  a collection developed to be enjoyed by readers from 5th grade onward.  Herren is an advocate of energetic rhyming verse, AND his collection has some mathy stuff -- including these two little poems.  Thanks, Dave! 

          Prime   by James D Herren

          Our love is prime –  
          Divisible by none
          But you and I,
          For you and I Are One.      

Monday, April 3, 2017

Math-Stat Awareness Month -- find a poem!

APRIL is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month
AND
National Poetry Month!

 Celebrate with a MATHY POEM, found here in this blog!  Scroll down!
If you are looking for mathy poems on a particular topic, the SEARCH box in the right-column may help you find them. For example, here is a link to posts found when I searched using the term "parallel."  And here are posts that include the term "angle."   To find a list of additional useful search terms, scroll down the right-hand column

For your browsing pleasure, here are the titles and dates of previous blog postings,
moving backward from the present.  Enjoy!
Mar 31  Math and poetry in film
Mar 28  Split this Rock, Freedom Plow Award, April 21
Mar 27  Math-themed poems at Poets.org
Mar 23  Remember Emmy Noether! 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Math and poetry in film

     One of my delights in the last year has been viewing films about poets and mathematicians.   First, "The Man Who Knew Infinity" -- about the mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) and, more recently "Neruda" about the Chilean politician  and poet, Pablo Neruda. And also, the film "Paterson" -- about a bus-driver poet named Paterson in the city of Paterson, NJ -- a city well-known for its earlier poet, William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) who immortalized his hometown in his very long poem, "Paterson."
Here is a link to my earlier posting of a poem by Jonathan Holden, "Ramanaujan."
     I have included elsewhere in this blog several poems by Pablo Neruda 
and offer links here:  "28325674549,"  from "The Heights of Macchu Pichu," 
and a two-line poem, "Point."
     The author of the poetry in the film "Paterson" is Ron Padgett -- 
and here are links to my previous postings of two of his poems: 
 
     At the website Poets.org one may find 38 poems by William Carlos Williams and 11 poems by Pablo Neruda.  At PoetryFoundation.org one may find find 27 poems by Pablo Neruda and 120 poems by William Carlos Williams and 15 poems by Ron Padgett.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Split this Rock, Freedom Plow Award, April 21

     SPLIT THIS ROCK is a wonderful activist poetry organization -- based near to me in Washington, DC -- with a name based on a line by Langston Hughes.*  As a strong supporter of their mission to use poetry for positive social change, I want to announce one of their very special programs:
Friday, April 21 | 6 pm |Arts Club of Washington, DC 
The 2017 Freedom Plow Award for Poetry and Activism
Read about this years finalists,
 Francisco Aragón, Andrea Assaf,  
JP Howard, and Christopher Soto (aka Loma)  
on Split This Rock's Website.  Tickets may be purchased here. ($25 General, $10 Students).  

In October, 2013, the Freedom Plow Award was won by Eliza Griswold   -- see this blog posting to learn a bit about her work with the poetry of Afghan women.

 *The name "Split This Rock" is pulled from a line in “Big Buddy,” a poem from Langston Hughes.
             Don’t you hear this hammer ring?
             I’m gonna split this rock
             And split it wide!
             When I split this rock,
             Stand by my side.

And for a tiny mathy poem by Langston Hughes, go here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Math-themed poems at Poets.org

     The poetry website Poets.org is a wonderful source of thousands of poems.  During one recent visit to the site, I saw that they have a collection of themes and, when I examined these themes, I found that one of these is "Math"  -- and I enjoyed taking time to explore.
     When I read mathy poems by non-maths often I am intrigued by their alterations of correct mathematical statements -- part of "poetic license." Non-maths can use intriguing language that I, with my mathematics background, could not allow myself to say.  For example, George David Clark's poem "Kiss Over Zero"  has this opening line:

anything over zero is zero

I was delighted to find in this math-themed group several old favorites, one of which is "Counting" by Douglas Goetsch -- a poem among those Sarah Glaz and I gathered a few years back for the anthology, Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters / CRC Press, 2008) -- now available as an e-book.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Remember Emmy Noether!

     On today's date in 1882, mathematician Emmy Noether (1882-1935) was born.  Noether became fixed in my attention when, recently out of college, I saw her photo in a display at the New York World's Fair.  Her life and her pioneering work became inspiration for me as I followed her in mathematics. I wrote a poem, "My Dance is Mathematics," in her honor; it begins with these words:

        They called you der Noether, as if mathematics
        was only for men. In 1964, nearly thirty years
        past your death, I saw you in a spotlight
        in a World's Fair mural, "Men of Modern Mathematics."


The complete poem, "My Dance is Mathematics," is available here.  Its final statement is:
They say she was good / For a woman.
 
Scroll down -- or follow this link -- to still more poems that celebrate the women of mathematics.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Is unreasonableness ever reasonable?

     This morning I have been thinking about these words of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) that were part of the postings on the door of one of my mathematics colleagues at Bloomsburg (PA) University:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: 
the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. 
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

     My reflections on the word "unreasonable" also led me back to this important article from 1960 -- "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences."  (And I found here some analysis of the article.)
     As a final comment on unreasonableness I offer "Atomic Split" -- a poem by Shaw, which I found here at poemhunter.com.   

Atomic Split      by George Bernard Shaw

What a terrible thing to do,
Man has split the atom in two.
For peaceful purposes so we are told,

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Julia . . . Set Aside Gender Roles . . .

       For me there is a special pleasure in finding in my reading a word like "identity" or "prime" that has a special mathematical meaning in addition to its ordinary usage.  And, because poets work hard to capture multiple images in their work, poems are where such pleasure occurs most often.  Poet and songwriter and professor Lawrence M. Lesser has beautifully connected the Julia Set of fractal geometry with his grandmother, Julia -- and he has given me permission to share his poem, "Julia,"  offered below.  This poem is offered, along with other work by Lesser, in a Poetry Folder, "Moving Between Inner and Outer Worlds," in the most-recent issue of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.

For more about Julia Sets, visit http://www.karlsims.com/julia.html.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Again we celebrate Pi !

 Now I give  -- I again enumerate π's digits, count out . . . 
3.141592653 . . . 

Tuesday, March 14, is Pi-day -- and I invite you to browse or SEARCH this blog for references to π / Pi and to learn more about Pilish (a language in which, as above, word-lengths follow the pattern of the digits of π).  Here are a links to several of the postings available:

       Rhymes to help you remember the digits of Pi
       Poetry that imagines auctioning the digits of Pi
       A Circle poem in Pilish 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Circle of Silence -- and sexual harassment

       Colonel Stacey K. Vargas is a professor of Physics at the Virginia Military Institute.  I found her poem -- with its vicious circles -- in the wonderful and provocative anthology, Raising Lilly Ledbetter:  Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, edited by Carolyne Wright, M. L. Lyons, and Eugenia Toledo (Lost Horse Press, 2015).

Circle of Silence     by Stacey K. Vargas

Like an electron trapped in an unstable orbit, I am seated in a circle of powerful men. 
In an awkward moment small talk ends and the meeting abruptly begins.
The superintendent turns to me and says, "This was not sexual harassment."
I turn to the inspector general and say, "After everything you heard in this investigation, 
       you find this acceptable?"
The inspector general turns to my department head but remains silent. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Honor Math-Women ...

       The first math-woman that inspired me was Laura Church; the first famous math-woman (someone with a theorem named after her) whom I came to admire -- and write a poem about -- was Emmy Noether (1882-1935).  As a recent film featuring NASA mathematician, Katherine Johnson, points out, math-women are:

Hidden figures:
women no one
notices are
changing the world.

Other living mathematicians who deserve to be more well-known include:
         Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician at Stanford who in 2014 won the prestigious Fields Medal for her work related to the symmetry of curved surfaces.
         Moon Duchin, a Tufts University professor who is using geometry to fight gerrymandering.
         Cathy O'Neill, a data scientist (and blogger at mathbabe.org) whose recent book Weapons of Math Destruction helps readers to understand the roles (and threats) of big data in our society. 

 TODAY is the International Women's Day!

Celebrate the day by getting to know some math-women.  Try for ten. Learn their names, read their bios.  Here are two websites that can help:


And here is a link to a list of women who deserve, but do not have, Wikipedia Pages.  Can you help?

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Geometry of Wood

    A recent email from Todd Sformo, a biologist living in Barrow, Alaska, alerted me to his prose poem "Knots" in the online publication Hippocampus Magazine; a sample from "Knots" is offered below.
     Sformo's poem, which offers vivid descriptions of geometric patterns in wood, uses as epigraph several sentences from the Polish mathematician Stanislaw M Ulam (1909-1984). (Ulam was involved in the wartime Manhattan Project and in the design of thermonuclear weapons.)

When I was a boy, I felt that the role of rhyme in poetry 
was to compel one to find the unobvious 
because of the necessity of finding a word which rhymes. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Celebrate Math-Women

March is Women's History Month
and here in this blog we celebrate math-women with poems!
 
Herein appear lots of poems featuring women in math and the SEARCH box in the right-column may help you find them. To find a list of useful search terms, scroll down the right-hand column.   For example, here is a link to a selection of poems found using the pair of search terms "women  equal."   AND, here are links to several poems to get you started:
A poem by Brian McCabe about Sophie Germain;
a poem by Eavan Boland about Grace Murray Hopper;    
a poem by Carol Dorf about Ada Lovelace;
a poem of mine about Sofia Kovalevsky;
a poem of mine about Emmy Noether

For your browsing pleasure,
 here are the titles and dates of previous blog postings,
moving backward from the present.  Enjoy!
Feb 28  Zero is three!
Feb 23  The Geometry of Poetry
Feb 21  An old link but a GOOD one!
Feb 16  The Infinite    

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Zero is three!

     February's second weekend was a busy one with the AWP Writer's conference in downtown Washington, DC -- and one of the special treats of that weekend was browsing the Book Fair, renewing connections and finding special books.  One of my great finds was the bilingual collection of Jean Cocteau's Grace Notes (The Word Works, 2017), translated by Mary-Sherman Willis.  Cocteau surely is a challenge for translators as he plays with with connections between disparate images; in the poem I offer below I much enjoyed the mathy connections -- person and number, three and zero, triangle and oval, and so on.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Geometry of Poetry

     Some poems lie around for A LONG TIME waiting for me to pick them up.  Or I pick them up and put them down in a special place and then place something else on top of them.  Such is the case with Janet Kirchheimer's "The Geometry of Poetry" -- several years ago Janet and I corresponded and then I didn't follow through with posting her poem.  And now, this week, I am working on a paper for Bridges 2017 -- a math-arts conference to be held in Waterloo, Ontario at the end of July -- and my working title is the same as the title of Janet's poem.  AND, this coincidence helped me to FIND her poem to give you to enjoy.
     I first read "The Geometry of Poetry" by Janet R. Kirchheimer online in Poemeleon -- and her work also has appeared in many other journals, anthologies and websites. She is currently producing AFTER, a film that explores poetry written about the Holocaust.  Thanks, Janet, for this poem with its mathy comparisons.
The Geometry of Poetry    by Janet R. Kirchheimer  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

An old link but a GOOD one!

     Today I have been working on some ideas for a paper for the 2017 BRIDGES Math-Arts Conference and I have needed to refer back to an old paper of mine, "Mathematics in Poetry," that I wrote for MAA's JOMA more than 10 years ago -- a survey article that introduces a variety of viewpoints and examples.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Infinite

     On page 53 of the February 6 issue of The New Yorker I recently found and enjoyed a poem entitled "The Infinite" by Charles Simic.  Here are its opening lines:

     The infinite yawns and keeps yawning.
     Is it sleepy?
     Does it miss Pythagoras?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Love and Mathematics -- and Valentine's Day

     Perhaps you need a love poem for a mathematician, or about a mathematician -- you might enter the words love and mathematician in the search box to the right and find what this blog has to offer.  And here is a link to previous postings that celebrate Valentine's Day.  Enjoy!!

Read it (math OR poem) more than once . ..

     Recently my poet-friend, Millicent Borges Accardi, sent me a copy of her latest book, Only More So (Salmon Poetry, 2016).  She mentioned a poem entitled "The Night of Broken Glass" for its mathematics -- indeed it includes several numbers as it movingly describes attempts at normalcy amid the horrors of urban attack; and it ends with this stanza :

      The essential business of living well
      Continues in shock waves
      That fall into the ground of innocent
      People, triggered inside a soul
      Of nothingness that pretended
      To solve an impossible equation.

     My favorite poem in Accardi's collection is "Amazing Grace" which I give you below.   It is a poem that, like an intriguing piece of mathematics, I have read, and read again, and again . ..  each time getting more meaning than the time before.
     For me, one of the similarities of poetry and math is their density, the need for several readings -- for reading both aloud and silently, for reading with pencil and paper for note-taking, for reading in the library and at the kitchen table, sitting or standing.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Like James Baldwin - refuse labels!

     Last Sunday evening -- instead of watching Super Bowl LI -- in a crowded theater in downtown Silver Spring I watched the recently-released documentary "I Am Not Your Negro," narrated using words of writer James Baldwin (1924-1986).  Baldwin was a contrarian, he avoided or contradicted labels and categories.
     One of my favorite quotes -- that I see as intimately related to discovery in mathematics (from Hungarian-American Nobelist, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893-1986)) -- applies also to Baldwin:

                     Discovery is seeing
                     what everybody else has seen, and thinking 
                     what nobody else has thought.

And here, from Jimmy's Blues & Other Poems (Beacon Press, 2014) is Baldwin's little poem "Imagination" which captures the same sort of mind-play that occurs with mathematics.   

Monday, February 6, 2017

Celebrate Francis Su

     In this morning's email I got a link (Thanks, Greg Coxson!) to this story that celebrates the talented mathematician and compassionate human being, Francis SuDr Su (of Harvey Mudd College) has recently completed a term as president of the Mathematical Association of America.  Here is a link to Dr Su's retiring presidential address -- for which he received a standing ovation.  Read.  Learn.  Admire.  Celebrate.  Imitate!
     Scrolling down in this blog to my posting for January 11, 2017 will lead you to links to several poems that celebrate mathematicians. And a blog-SEARCH using "mathematician" will find even more such poems.  Enjoy!

       A thorough advocate in a just cause, 
             a penetrating mathematician facing the starry heavens, 
                   both alike bear the semblance of divinity.
                                                                     -- Goethe (1749-1832)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day 2017

      My scan of this morning's Washington Post did not find a mention of today's important status as Groundhog Day -- and I am worried that perhaps the new President 45 has banned these useful creatures.  If you wish, you may search this blog for postings related to Groundhog Day and, if you do, you can get these results.  Enjoy!