Monday, November 30, 2015

Sustainability needs the arts AND mathematics . . .

The following poem is by Erica Jolly -- an Australian poet and retired teacher who is working hard to have the arts and the sciences integrated in Australian schools curricula.  “For too long, since the 1950s, we have witnessed serious losses across disciplines as science and mathematics have been deliberately separated from the arts and humanities,” Ms Jolly says.

"What has sustainability got to do with mathematics?"    by Erica Jolly

An exclamation attacking interdisciplinary themes in the national curriculum 
by Christopher Pyne on Q & A, 28 October 2013.

Does he not know or care
humankind must measure? 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving, 2015

Thinking toward Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I am grateful for  --
 in addition to my children and grandchildren who will gather --
 all of the mathematic and poetic voices that help me see our world.
 Happy Thanksgiving wishes for all who read here!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Quoting Isaac Newton . . . . a "found" poem

     I do not know what
     I may appear to the world;
     but to myself I seem to have been
     only like a boy playing on the seashore,
     and diverting myself now and then
     finding a smoother pebble
     or a prettier shell than ordinary,
     whilst the great ocean of truth
     lay all undiscovered before me.

   -Isaac Newton, philosopher and mathematician (1642-1727)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Axiom: A Mathematics of Poetry

Today in a Facebook posting by Susanne Pumpluen
 I learned of Discov-her, an online journal 
featuring stories about women in Science. 
* * *
     The following poetry offering is by Richard Smyth who has written a parody of an introduction to the mathematics of logic (specifically Laws of Form by G Spencer Brown*, Julian Press, 1972)Smyth founded Anabiosis Press which offers the poetry journal Albatross and which has now evolved into Anabiosis Online.  
     I invite you to enjoy this play of words and ideas:


It shall be taken as given the idea of infinition. The idea of infinition stands in direct opposition to the idea of definition.

     Infinition is the act of making indefinite or unclear. That is to say, while some uses of language attempt to clarify, others attempt to obfuscate.

     Make a poem.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Encouragement from fathers, a second view

     Despite the importance of fathers' encouragement (as noted in my post on 13 November), some women oppose their fathers' views.  Recently I have been enjoying Rachel Swaby's Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World  (Broadway Books, 2015) and yesterday my reading focused on her bios of Maria Agnesi (1718-1799) and Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) and the roles their fathers played in their lives.  Agnesi was a child prodigy who wished to be a nun but followed her father's wish that she research in mathematics until his death, when she was thirty-four; she devoted the rest of her life to serving the poor.  The education of Ada Lovelace was directed by her mother who did not see her father, the poet Lord Byron, as a solid foundation.  
     Poetic expression by a daughter somewhat resistant to her father's wishes comes from our youngest-ever US Poet Laureate Rita Dove in her poem, "Flash Cards": 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Encouragement from fathers

     It was my observation as a professor in a mostly-male mathematics department that the men who joined me in supporting opportunities for women were fathers of daughters.  They had come to see the world from a new perspective -- and saw that it needed changing.  Somewhat along these lines was a recent Washington POST article that told of recent research findings about socially responsible behavior from CEO's with daughters.
      With these thoughts in mind I started counting words . . . wanting to form a poem:

Monday, November 9, 2015

Limericks for Hedy Lamarr

     When seeking to draft a poem quickly, it is useful to have some sort of pattern to follow -- a pattern helping to dictate word choice.  This morning, upon discovering Google's online celebration of the 101st birthday of inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr, I have wanted to join the commemoration with a poem.  A verse pattern rather often used by hasty math writers is the limerick (see links below) -- and I have today constructed this pair of limericks to praise Lamarr.

     May a beautiful actress present
     Skills beyond stage and screen content?
          Yes!  Hedy Lamarr
          Excelled as a star,
     And had also talent to invent!  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

It is clear that . . .

     "If I stand"     by Inger Christensen  (Denmark, 1935-2009)

               If I stand
               alone in the snow
               it is clear
               that I am a clock

               how else would eternity
               find its way around                
Translated from the Danish by Susannah Nied

Monday, November 2, 2015

Artificial Intelligence in the Library . . .

     Libraries are wonderful places and library book sales are temptations impossible to resist -- and so, during a recent trip to Boston and exploration of the historic public library buildings on Boylston Street, I purchased a copy of Living Proof  (Florida International University Press, 1985) by Edmund Skellings (1932-2012).  Born in Boston and a poet laureate of Florida, Skellings was a pioneer in the application of computers to the arts and humanities.  The word "proof" in his title was enough to make me pick up the book and I have relished the opportunity to turn up memories of a long ago graduate course in AI while reading this poem:

Artificial Intelligence     by Edmund Skellings

Euclid rolled over in his bones
When Newell & Simon instructed
Their machine to look for new proof
For bisecting the ordinary triangle.