Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Poems starring mathematicians -- 7

Activist mathematician Chandler Davis -- an editor of The Mathematical Intelligencer, career mathematician at the University of Toronto, and author of It Walks in Beauty (Aqueduct Press, 2010) -- has written of his friendship with Norberto Salinas (1940-2005), a mathematician originally from Argentina who was a long-time faculty member at the University of Kansas: 

     Guided      by Chandler Davis
     I remember Norberto
     hadn't brought his white cane
     so going out for coffee
            on unfamiliar streets
     he gladly held for guidance
            my gladly offered elbow.
     And in mathematics, it was the blind leading the blind!
     Whenever one of us had guidance to give the other
     it was gladness to be giver,
            it was gladness to be receiver.
     "I see, I see," Norberto murmured.
     "Guided" is found in The Shape of Content (AKPeters, 2008); this volume of creative writng in mathematics and science includes prose and poetry from twenty-one authors, many of whom are mathematicians.. 
     Salinas, who was blinded at age ten, was one of the developers of a new Braille code called GS8, which uses eight dots instead of the usual six. The two additional dots, reserved for mathematical notation, permit representation of 255 characters rather than the 63 that are possible in standard Braille.
     Prior postings of "Poems starring mathematicians" may be found for April 14, April 15, April 26, April 28, May 4, May 14, and, under the title "In the same family . . . ," on July 20.

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