Saturday, July 31, 2021

Favorite -- most visited -- Posts

Because this blog has more than a thousand posts, spread over more than eleven years of posting, finding best information can be challenging.  The SEARCH feature in the right-hand column) and this linked file of names of poets and math-people and blog-content topics can be useful.  And, when time permits, browsing offers lots of fun.  Here, for the curious are the TOP TEN postings -- that is the postings that have had the most visitors since the blog's beginning in March, 2010.    


These are titles and links to the ten posts most visited in this blog since its beginning in 2010.

from September 2, 2010    Rhymes help to remember the digits of Pi   

from October 13, 2010   Varieties of Triangles -- by Guillevic

from March 29, 2010    "Mathematical" Limericks   

from February 11, 2011   Loving a mathematician (Valentine's Day and . . . )

from September 29, 2017   Poetry . . . Mathematics . . .  and Attitude  

from February 18, 2011   Srinivasa Ramanujan    

from January 8, 2016   The world is round . . . or flat!

from February 22, 2011    Poems of set paradox and spatial dimension

from  June 22, 2021    Interpreting Khayyam -- in Rhyme

from April 19, 2010      Poems with Fibonacci number patterns


Friday, July 23, 2021

Excitement from Finding a Proof . . . and then . . .

Recently I have been revisiting the poems that Sarah Glaz and I collected for the anthology, Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters / CRC Press, 2008) and renewing my enjoyment of them.  Here, from page 146, is  a sample.

The Proof by Theodore Deppe
I could live like this, waiting on the roof
for the great egret that flies overhead
at just this time, measuring the sun's height
with my fingers to see if the moment's come,
Annie studying the horizon as she describes
the last minutes of a show she watched
in which some mathematician -
she didn't catch the name - labours seven years
to solve a proof he's been enthralled by
since childhood, and though Annie tuned in
too late to know the nature of the problem,
she loves the pure joy with which he looks
into the camera and announces, I've found it -
there are tears in his eyes - I've found it.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Love and Tensor Algebra

     Stanislaw Lem (1921-2006) was a Polish science fiction writer whose works have been widely translated.  Here is a poem of his (found here in a blog with final postings in 2007)  -- a poem that enthusiastically expresses love in the language of mathematics!

Love and Tensor Algebra      
                    by Stanislaw Lem (translated 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
 Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

 Come, every frustum longs to be a cone
 And every vector dreams of matrices.
 Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
 It whispers of a more ergodic zone.  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Distance Melts . . . between math and poetry . . .

      One of my early math-poetry connections was with applied mathematician John Lew (1934-2006) who contributed often to the Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal (predecessor of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- in which this blog finds frequent math-poetry gems.)  With a doctorate in physics, Lew worked in applied mathematics for many years at the IBM Watson Research Center -- and maintained interests in literature and music, serving for a time as poetry editor of the Mensa Bulletin.  His sonnet below comes from his 1996 HMNJ article, "On Mathematics in Poetry."  Lew's complete article is available here.

      The Comet      by John Lew

      Near from infinity I came
               Drawn to your strong, unmoving light
      By some ascendance of its flame
              That charms the planets through their night.
      The distance melts, my spirit thaws,
              Sublimes, and in your radiance flies
      Soon, by the old, unchanging laws,
             An exhalation through the skies.
      Sweet perihelion!  May we touch,
            Our auras intermingle?  No,
      The impulse of my flight too much,
             I must again to darkness go;
      While you may stand, and watch my face
             Dwindle through trans-Plutonian space.

 An interesting controversy arose between Lew and me -- here is a link to a letter he wrote about a math-poetry "quiz" that I developed that had appeared in the American Mathematical Monthly (quiz available here).

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mathematics Humor -- in rhyming verse . . .

      At the website KOMPLEXIFY! a mathematician named Travis celebrates his love of mathematics in various ways, including humor and verse.  He supplies lots of limericks and parodies, including Tom Lehrer's parody of "That's Entertainment" entitled "That's Mathematics" which  I offer below.  (Here is a link to the rich list of Travis' poetic postings.)

That’s mathematics!       by Tom Lehrer

Counting sheep
When you’re trying to sleep,
Being fair
When there’s something to share,
Being neat
When you’re folding a sheet,
That’s mathematics!

When a ball
Bounces off of a wall,
When you cook
From a recipe book,
When you know
How much money you owe,
That’s mathematics! 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Limericks about Graphs -- Prize-Winners

     A couple of weeks ago I posted information about prize-winning poetry in the Writing portion of the 2021 MoMath Steven Strogatz Contest for high school students.  After finding that I began to look for the results of earlier contests.  Apparently 2020 was the first year of these contests and in that year, also, poems were winners -- limericks (with related drawings) by Sarah Thau.  “Limericks and poetry are not a typical way to convey information about math,” admits Thau, “but I think it makes it more palatable than learning functions by rote.  Who doesn’t love a limerick?

      From her winning collection, entitled "Little Function Limericks," here is a sample of Thau's work:

The entire collection of Thau's limericks is found here.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Picture a Mathematician . . . describe HER . . .

     Mathematicians are not always white and nerdy and male . . . but, for the others who dare to specialize in science and mathematics, there are many stereotypes that need to be busted.  Written by Gioia De Cari, a former MIT student, the play "Truth Values" reveals a woman's experience as a student in a male-science environment.  And the documentary film, "Picture a Scientist" describes the unequal treatment -- and payment -- of female professors.

     While you are seeking ways to view Truth Values and Picture a Scientist perhaps you will want to write down some of your own views;  while you are gathering your thoughts, here are three of my syllable-square stanzas about women in math to reflect on.

Syllable-square thoughts about Math Women

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Numbers keep track of memories . . .

     Sometimes the specific nature of counting can help us, for a bit of time, to steer our thoughts for away from sadness.  Here is a poem in which numbers give a grieving partner a framework through which to speak.  (This selection is from The Widows' Handbook (Kent State University Press, 2014), an anthology gathered and edited by Jacqueline Lapidus and Lise Menn.)

      Camp Numbers     by Barbara Bald   

      I’ve been in these woods seven days,
      fed our fish twelve shrimp pellets,
      filled two hummingbird feeders with red juice,
      given our cat ten doses of pink medicine.

      I’ve live-trapped twenty-eight field mice
      with the Tin Cat trap you bought,
      rescued our Brittany’s toy four times from the river,
      seen one person, the gas man fixing the fridge, in two days.

      I’ve written thirteen poems,
      five about your untimely death,
      cleaned six cabinets to rid rodent remnants,
      replaced one roll of toilet paper in the outhouse.

      I am still waiting for one of you.

Learn more about poet and educator and nature-lover Barbara Bald here at her website.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Looking back . . . to previous posts . . .


Back in January 2020 I gathered a list of titles of previous posts and posted it here at this link.  And below I offer titles of postings -- with links -- since that time.

And, if you are looking for a post on a particular topic,
you are invited to explore the SEARCH feature in the right-hand column
OR to browse the list of  Labels (also to the right) -- and click on ones that interest you.
TITLES OF POSTS (with links) 
June, 2021    
      Encryption and Love   
      A Life Made to Count   
      A Few Lines of Parody   
May, 2021      
      Reflecting on Pi . . .   
      Keeping Track of Chairs   
      Mathy Jokes    
      Climate Concerns