Monday, October 26, 2020

Math Songs by Tom Lehrer -- Political, etc.

      All of the songs of musician and math-teacher and nonagenarian Tom Lehrer are now in the public domain (at this link).  His mathy item, "The Derivative Song," was included here in an early post in this blog.  Today I have particularly enjoyed his "Political Action Song" which begins with these words:

     Now when it comes to anything political,
     We're int'rested, we're militant, we're critical.
     Though it's not quite evident
     Who we represent,
     We take stands and issue statements by the score.
     Ev'ry candidate, we know,
     Though he won't admit it's so,
     Would give anything to be the one we're for, we're for,
     Would give anything to be the one we're for.     .  .  .    

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Spirit of Delight . . .

        The true spirit of delight, the exaltation,

        the sense of being more than man,

        which is the touchstone of the highest excellence,

        is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

Monday, October 19, 2020

2020 Nobel Laureates -- Mathematics and Poetry

     Both mathematics and poetry are languages for conveying complex ideas . . . for example, Oxford mathematical physicist Roger Penrose uses mathematics to study black holes and as a foundation for his notion that the universe as we know it is not unique but one in a series of universes.  Recently the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded award one-half of  the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 to Roger Penrose for the discovery that "black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity."

     The 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to US Poet Louise Glück.  In 2003 Glück was selected US Poet Laureate of the US and she has twelve published poetry collections in addition to lots of online offerings.  An interesting complement to her poetry is her 1994 collection of essays, Proofs and Theories;  Essays on Poetry   In her opening essay, "Education of the Poet" (available online here) she makes this statement that relates well to mathematics:

  "I loved those poems that seemed so small on the page
but that swelled in the mind; . . ."

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Celebrating Ada Lovelace

     Today, 13 October 2020, is  Ada Lovelace Day -- celebrated each year on the second Tuesday of October and an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Born to a famous father, poet Lord Byron -- and first known as Augusta Ada Byron (1815-1852), Countess of Lovelace — this talented woman became far better known as "Ada Lovelace" (1815-1852).  Lovelace worked on an early mechanical computer, "the Analytical Engine" -- and, because of her recognition of the varied applications of this machine, she is often regarded to be one of the first computer programmers.

Here is a link to a poem, "Bird, Moon, Engine" by Jo Pitkin that celebrates Ada Lovelace (with opening stanzas offered below) and this link leads to some of Lovelace's own poetic wordsAt this link are the results of a blog search using "Ada Lovelace" that leads to the aforementioned works and lots of other poems about math women.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Brilliant Math-Women -- Share the News!

     Recently (10/10/2020), NPR had an interview with former teachers of Louisville shooting victim Breonna Taylor  -- an interview that celebrated her love of and talent for mathematics.  Read about it here.  I write to applaud this celebration AND to encourage increased recognition of math-women while they are alive.

A wonderful way to celebrate math-women is the annual essay contest sponsored by the Association for Women in Mathematics -- open to students from middle school to college; contest information is available here.  Interviews may be conducted now; essay submission begins December 1.

A repeat from this posting back in 2010
Here is a link to a list of previous posts involving "women" and "mathematics".

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Mathy Rhymes

     Yesterday's note on "A Mathematical Morsel Every Day" -- an American Mathematical Society page-a-day calendar for 2020 assembled by mathematician and writer Evelyn Lamb -- is a fact that involves the first six digits in the decimal expansion of  π :    314159 is a prime number.

And, because this is a math-poetry blog, I have turned this information into a syllable-square rhyme:

           3     1     4

           1     5     9

           is a prime!

Perhaps you'd like to explore more:    Here's a link to previous blog postings with ideas by Evelyn Lamb.    Rhymes often help us to remember; here is a link to postings of rhymes used to remember the digits of π.    AND here is a link to some postings that feature square stanzas.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Domain of the Function . . .

     Recently I found, in The Literary Nest, the mathy poem, "Functional" by retired math teacher and active poet Carol Dorf.  Dorf's poem is a pantoum -- and the interplay of math terminology with repeated lines, gives us some new thoughts to think.  Enjoy!

     Functional     by Carol Dorf

     Fanatic is the word of the day.
     The domain of the function is the set of inputs.
     How did the programmer know in advance?
     The range is the set of outputs.