Monday, 28 August 2017

cool and calculated

Thanks to the brilliant essay by Margaret Wertheim we’re reminded that not only is non-Euclidean geometry not just some contrarian theory, it’s moreover observable in Nature and we can learn to crotchet with hyperbolic patterns.
By pondering how simple creatures and primitive—even primordial—structures can prefigure the most complex and abstract mathematical concepts that mankind is credited for discovering rather than being informed by a disembodied function, the author explores how we might not have taken the most optimal and encouraging approach to academics and suggests we engage in maths jam-sessions and that virtuosity differs only in instrument. Study and practise aren’t being supplanted by license but rather the notion that our imagination is rather inhibited by convention and we’d be better able to see the next revelatory breakthroughs if calculus was the plaything of all aspirants and not just the few. When first taking a geometry course and being introduced to the different fates of parallel lines, I recall day-dreaming about the architecture and the topologically understanding of birds but didn’t know that these abstract concepts were embodiments of the physical world. There are a lot of thought-provoking avenues to explore in the piece whether or not one believes that honey-bees or nautiluses know what’s best suited to going about their business and the most resonant support for her argument was how mathematicians have time and again have found themselves feeling doubt and disdain for their most transformative theories and nearly didn’t dare share them for fear of rejection—whereas bit of contextualisation and craft might have proved liberating.