Monday, June 29, 2020

Considering opposites . . . and finding union . . .

     The categorization of different points of view as opposites can disappear as a unified system embraces both of them.  In mathematics, the counting numbers and their opposites become the integers,the rational and irrational numbers join to give the reals, the real and imaginary numbers yield the complex numbers.  In our global world with its biases and dangers and uncertainties, we will, I hope, evaluate our differences and unite our strengths to form a larger, stronger unity.
     A syllable-square poem by Carmela Martino (offered below) illustrates one of the unifications that can benefit our society: inclusion of the arts to enrich the sciences, from STEM forming STEAM.

Carmela Martino's poem first appeared here at TeachingAuthors.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Math-poetry in The Mathematical Intelligencer

     In a recent e-mail, this message:  "The Mathematical Intelligencer. Vol. 42 No. 2 is now available online."  Most Intelligencer articles require a subscription or a fee-payment but one that is freely available to all of us is the poem, "Pandemic Math:  X and Y Axes" by Wisconsin painter and poet Robin Chapman.  Here are its opening lines:

          I'm thinking of those graphs we anxiously scan each day
          carry news of infection's spread, asking if we
          will find death stalking our neighborhoods . . .

Chapman's complete poem is available here.  

Monday, June 22, 2020

Counting on ... and on ... BLACK LIVES MATTER!

     In these days of learning to recognize the racism and racial injustice that has gone on in the United States for SO LONG I am reminded of a poem, "Learning to Count" by Romanian poet Nichita Stanescu (1933-1983) (posted at this link back in 2011), a poem that captures the horror of barbarianism.

     Learning to count     by Nichita Stanescu                   
     Hairy and sweaty sit                            
     the barbarian Hittites.       
     Learning to count they pull from corpses
     fingers, legs, arms, eyes.                                    
     Oh, divided ones,    
     how bloody              
     is the idea of having ideas!  

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Principles of Accounting -- in verse!

      Quarantining has turned poetry readings into Zoom events -- and that brought Pennsylvania poet Barbara Crooker to my computer a couple of weeks ago via a reading sponsored by The Word Works..  A delight for me to reconnect with someone whom I knew from my years in Bloomsburg.  Barbara -- who is a very fine poet one whose work has often appeared on The Writer's Almanac  -- has given me permission to share the following mathy poem (found in her collection, Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series, 2019).

      Principles of Accounting      by Barbara Crooker

     Nearly summer, and the trees are banking on green,
     calculating their bonuses in numerators of leaves.
     Outside my window, the crows are ganging up
     on someone, thugs in their hoodies of night.
     I'm feeling the number of days begin to feel finite,
     no longer uncountable as blades of grass. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Everybody counts -- Axioms for diversity

Found here in the 2016 Notices of the American Mathematical Society --
these words that are mathematical, poetic AND important!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Unconscious(?) bias

       Wherever she goes
       there is mathematics --
       but THEY don't call
       her a mathematician . . .  
       is a girl
       or a woman,
       a teacher,
       a student 
                    or perhaps
       a scholar,
       an aspiring poet . . .

Monday, June 8, 2020

Learning from Copernicus

     These days are challenging ones -- HOW can we live safely?  How can we live morally? How can we learn that none of us is the center of the universe?
     Today, read the poetic words of Paul Tran and consider these questions.

     Copernicus   by Paul Tran (from The New Yorker, link below)

     Who doesn’t know how
     doubt lifts the hem of its nightgown

     to reveal another inch of thigh
     before the face of faith?

     I once didn’t. I once thought I was
     my own geometry,
     my own geocentric planet

Friday, June 5, 2020

Does nothing exist?

     From Montreal mathematician, poet, and artist Alex Ionut, this highly imaginative poem, "The Empty Set Exists."  -- a poem stimulated by his study of the Euler spiral (clothoid) and a 3-D version that he calls "the spherical clothoid."  

       The empty set exists   by Alexandru Ionut

       To see her would be like touching death
       It's axiomatic, the foundation of any metric
       You love her because she's her

       Double entendre across the stanza
       But her hair, only spirals

       My love for her, pure vector
       Imaginary, hypercomplex
       Unmixed evil, I bow to Lord Kelvin
       Maxwell's demon, my Hamiltonian angel  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Women in Theory -- Math to Give

     The June, 2020 Conference of Women in Theory (of Computer Science) has been postponed to next year.  But these energetic mathy women got together virtually and performed a song.  I offer below the opening stanzas;  for the performance and complete lyrics, follow this link to YouTube.

      I Will Survive   (lyrics by Avi Wigderson (Princeton, IAS)

      At first I was afraid, I was petrified
      I worried I could never fit this proof on just one slide
      But then I spent so many nights 

                     thinking why it is so long
      And I grew strong
      And learned exactly what went wrong

      A problem wor-thy, of attack
      Just proves its worth by vigorously fighting back
      I should have used error correction, 

                     should have sampled yet again
      I should have stayed the course 

                     and found there is so much that I can gain
          . . .
For the YouTube version (with lyrics) of the complete song (8 stanzas), go here.