Saturday, December 30, 2023

The true spirit of delight . . .

As the year ends, remembering an important truth . . .

 The true spirit of delight, the exultation,

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 (1972-1970)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

A Christmas-tree poem

As I enjoy the brightness that Christmas tree lights bring to a grey day, I am reminded of the following poem by Brian Bilston, found on Twitter (X) early in December:

Previous mentions of Brian Bilston in this blog may be found at this link.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Counting on Christmas . . .

      One of my favorite memories of Christmas when I was a child involves recitation -- with family or classmates -- of this holiday rhyme, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  I include a few lines below, and a here is a link to the entire poem:

       On the first day of Christmas,
       my true love sent to me
       A partridge in a pear tree.

       On the second day of Christmas,
       my true love sent to me
       Two turtle doves,
       And a partridge in a pear tree.

       On the third day of Christmas,
       my true love sent to me
       Three French hens,
       Two turtle doves,
       And a partridge in a pear tree.

       On the fourth day of Christmas,
       my true love sent to me
       Four calling birds,
       Three French hens,
       Two turtle doves,
       And a partridge in a pear tree.                   
            . . .                                                             Read more here.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Explore a new idea by writing a poem . . .

      Often I try to unravel the intricacies of a new idea by writing -- using communication with my fingers as steps toward understanding.  And when I found the poem below (here at the website VIA NEGATIVA) I saw it also as a poem of discovery -- and I offer it to you:

Every Line Intersects the Line
                           at Infinity at Some Point                       
by Luisa A. Igloria

"Out of nothing I have created a strange new universe."   - János Bolyai (1802-1860)

The optometrist asks you to look into 
the autorefractor: two dark lines form 

a road that stretches from where you sit
to a red barn at the horizon. If your brain 

tells you that you're looking at a point 
at infinity rather than just mere inches away, 

it helps the eyes focus. Things have to end 
somewhere, don't they? In projective geometry, 

Monday, December 11, 2023

Stories of Women and Girls in Science

The website for Agnes Scott College has a wonderful collection of biographies of math women  -- and today I focus particularly on the story of mathematician Marie-Sophie Germain (1776-1831).   I quote below a few words about Germain:

Sophie began teaching herself mathematics using the books in her father's library. Her parents felt that her interest was inappropriate for a female (the common belief of the middle-class in the 19th century) and did all that they could to discourage her.  

Related to the idea expressed in this quote is a thoughtful poem about Germain by Colorado poet Jessy Randall;  the poem is part of Randall's very special collection Mathematics for Ladies, Goldsmiths Press, 2022 and I offer it below:

Friday, December 8, 2023

A Must-Read Journal -- Humanistic Mathematics

    One of the very special online resources for connections between mathematics and poetry (and also other art forms) is the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.  Edited by California mathematicians Mark Huber of Claremont McKenna College and Gizem Karaali of Pomona College, this free-access journal has online issues published each six months -- available here.

     Poetry of many different forms is available in JHM -- and a poem from the January, 2023 issue that I enjoyed rereading recently is "Mathematics" by Northwestern Math Professor Kim Regnier Jongerius -- a poem inspired by the song "Memories" from the musical Cats and describing some of the joys and frustrations inherent in doing mathematical work.  I offer one of its stanzas below and I invite you to go here (to the JHM website) to read more.

     from    Mathematics     by Kim Regnier Jongerius

     I must wait for an insight
     Try to think of connections
     That I haven't before.
     When the day breaks with no solution coming to me
     Then my courage sinks to the floor.

Enjoy all six stanzas of the poem here in JHM.

THANK YOU, Jongerius and JHM for sharing thought-provoking words.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Should I take notes?

One of the things about my learning process that I was not fully aware of during many of my school years was the role that my fingers play in my thinking and learning.  Taking notes -- as I read or as I listen to a teacher's presentation -- helps the ideas to become part of me, even if i do not reread and study the notes afterward.

A Fib about how I think and learn

When I began writing poetry I started to notice that my fingers also became part of the creative writing process . ..  sometimes my fingers wrote words before my mind knew them.  And I loved these discoveries!

Is this writing-thinking link also part of you?

Friday, December 1, 2023

The First Thing . . .

Found in a posting on November 26 on Twitter the following thoughtful lines -- featuring counting -- by poet and editor Dr. Maya C. Popa,