Monday, March 28, 2016

Contemplating the heavens

English writer G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a poet but was better known for his pithy sayings.   For example, we have the following statement (originally found here). 

         between the poet
         and the mathematician
         is that the poet tries to get
         his head into the heavens
         while the mathematician
         tries to get the heavens
         into his head.

     Alas, Chesterton's comment obeys the common assumption that the male pronoun should be used for mathematicians.  Another poetic comment on mathematicians is found in a poem by Anthony Hecht -- "Mathematics Considered As a Vice" -- available here at  Hecht's poem  offers a strongly negative view of the abstract nature of mathematics.
     Rivalry between mathematics and poetry comes to a head in April -- during which we will celebrate both "National Mathematics Awareness Month" and "National Poetry Month."

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