Thursday, November 14, 2019

Connecting mathematics to a larger world . . .

     I begin with words from a former student -- a postal worker who had retired early and went back to school to become a primary-school teacher:

                    I will teach
                    by punctuality
                    and perfect attendance.

     In 1959, a Rede Lecture by C. P. Snow (1905-1980)  famously identified two separate cultures  -- the scientists and the humanists -- and these days what is often termed the STEM to STEAM movement is attempting to humanize the sciences by emphasizing the necessity of the arts in scientific study.  
     The isolation of mathematical research from dissemination of that research and from other disciplines was famously recommended by G. H. Hardy (1877-1947) in A Mathematician's Apology (with a foreword by C. P. Snow, first published in 1940 by Cambridge University Press).  Hardy's opening paragraph includes these words:
          . . . there is no scorn more profound,
                      or on the whole more justifiable,
                           than of the men who make for the men who explain.
                 Exposition, criticism, appreciation,
                           is work for second-rate minds.
These words of Hardy make me ANGRY!

     As someone with a lifetime love of mathematics and with a mind that strives to connect and explain, I deeply appreciate the creative insights that mathematicians such as Hardy (and his star pupil Ramanujan, 1887-1920) have to offer AND I also value the teachers and writers who have communicated them to meHurrah for those who SHARE the wealth -- who write and speak ABOUT mathematics!

Here, for your thoughtful consideration, is a Fib (about mathematics?)

          the most
          part of a tree -- leaves
          or the fruit, branches, trunk, or roots?

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