Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year! -- Resolve to REWARD WOMEN!

     My December 27 post celebrated the life of Vera Rubin (b 1928) who died on Christmas Day -- and a more recent Washington Post article by columnist Petula Dvorak has used the example of Vera Rubin to call further attention to ongoing discrimination against high-achieving women.

     On a different note, my e-mail "poem-a-day" from is "Earthy Anecdotes" by Reading, Pennsylvania poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)-- follow this link to visit the poem (with its morsel of mathematics) and see the vivid image of Oklahoma bucks moving in "a swift, circular line".

Happy New Year, 2017!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Celebrate Vera Rubin -- a WOMAN of science!

     This morning's Washington Post carried an obituary of Vera Rubin (1928-2016),  a pioneering astronomer who confirmed the existence of dark matter.  Yesterday's NPR feature -- noting Rubin's death and celebrating her life -- contained several quotes from this outstanding scientist about women's roles.  Two of these poetic statements I have shaped into syllable-square stanzas:

World wide, half
of    all    brains
are    women's. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Post-Christmas reflections from W. H. Auden

     A favorite writer whose works I enjoy again and again is English poet Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973). Here is a mathy excerpt from a very long Auden poem (around 1500 lines) entitled "FOR THE TIME BEING: A Christmas Oratorio," written during World War II and available in his Collected Poems.   

     The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
     And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
     Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
     Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
     Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
     Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
     Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
     And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
     And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.

Another mathy Auden poem, "Numbers and Faces," is available here.   And this link leads to more of his work.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Numbers for Christmas . . .

o n
t o p
g i v e
l i g h t
f r e e l y
f o r e v e r
a b u n d a n t
b r i l l i a n t
e v e r y w h e r e

Christmas is coming and I have looked back to earlier posts for holiday greetings -- a version of the growing snowball poem above was first posted in 2012 and here, from 2010, is a Christmas verse that celebrates pi:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Remembering Thomas Schelling (1921-2016)

     On December 13, Nobel-prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling (b 1921) died.  I had the privilege of meeting this outstanding scholar in Cambridge, MA back in 1980 when I dropped by his office after hearing him lecture at the Kennedy School of Government.  I became very interested in his ideas of critical mass (found along with lots of other good stuff in Micromotives and Macrobehavior and eventually included the topic in a textbook that I wrote  for a liberal arts mathematics course, "Mathematical Thinking," that I helped to develop at Bloomsburg University.
     I want to honor Schelling with a poem, but . . .

        find a
        poem for
        Thomas Schelling – thus
        I am compelled to write this Fib.

        Thanks for thinking well, for sharing your keen thoughts with us. 

(Fibonacci Numbers:  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 . . .)

Monday, December 12, 2016

When one isn't enough ... words from a Cuban poet

     Last week I traveled (as part of an organized people-to-people program) to Cuba.  I will need many days to sort and digest and organize the details of that experience.
     Neither poetry nor mathematics was part of our Cuba schedule but I did have a chance to visit the sparse collection at La Moderna Poesia in Havana and to purchase their only two bilingual poetry collections (by poets José Martí and Nicolás Guillén).  The PoetryFoundation website has introduced me to the work of Cuban poet Omar Pérez  (son of Ernesto "Che" Guevara) and I found there, at this link,  Pérez's poem "The Progression"  -- which includes some mathematical ideas.

The Progression     by Omar Pérez  
                                             translated by Kristin Dykstra 

When one isn’t enough, you need two
when two aren’t enough, you need four
with four the progression begins, moving toward a number
that schoolteachers will call absurd.