Monday, December 21, 2020

Admiring John Conway with stories of numbers

     Recently I was contacted by Thomas Barr, Director of Programs at the American Mathematical Society who told me of poetry written by a student from Flagstaff, AZ; Tristian Bangert of Coconino Community College has written about the discovery by John Horton Conway (1937-2020) of the surreal numbers -- and I offer part of his poem below; contact information for the poet is offered at the end of this post:

from Conway     by Tristian Bangert

     There once was a man
     Who knew naught but numbers
     Joined by their presence
     The numbers, wondering
     "Where has your kind been? 
     Have you not wondered who was here before you?"  

     There once was a number, 
     unlike other numbers
     It stood in waiting
     Waiting for recognition
     Not unlike the last ungifted Christmas puppy
     Nor unlike the last chosen for the team

     This number wondered, longer than any of the others,
     "When will I be found?
     Does not anyone want me?"
     And so the number waited   . . .

Bangert's poem ends with:
       R.I.P. Jon Conway, 
       Finder of the surreals
       Friend of numbers.    

For the rest of the poem, contact Tristian Bangert at tristianbangert at gmail dot com.

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