Monday, April 30, 2018

Embrace both art and mathematics

      A recent news article in The Hofstra Chronicle opens with a statement attributed to John Adams that begins something like this:

          I must study Politiks and War that my sons
               may have liberty to study  ...

And then, questions begin -- 
          is it painting and poetry 
                 or mathematics and philosophy      that should follow.

But why must a divide be proposed?

Whether mathematics or painting or philosophy or poetry, let us connect the best thoughts of each -- let our STEM be STEAM.  In this vein, consider the opening stanza of  "To Divine Proportion,"a sonnet by Rafael Alberti (translated from the Spanish by Carolyn Tipton):    

          To you, amazing discipline,
          ratio: source of beauty without flaw
          revering the rich life cloistered within
          the armored confines of your sacred law.

and a stanza from "The Cyberiad" by Stanislaw Lem (translated from the Polish by Michael Kandel):

          Come, let us hasten to a higher plane,
          Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
          Their indices bedecked from one to n,
          Comingled in an endless Markov chain!

Alberti's complete poem and additional stanzas by Lem are available in Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics, edited by Sarah Glaz and me (A K Peters / CRC Press, 2008).

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