Category Archives: mathematics and …

how our discipline relates to other things

Ramon Llull

Last Saturday the Guardian had a review of The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell (granddaughter of John Le Carré). Set in Barcelona and Mallorca, the book is a murder mystery and more; its presiding genius is Ramon Llull, the mediaeval … Continue reading

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OuLiPo

OuLiPo, or Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (which they translate as “Charity bazaar of potential literature”) were a collection of writers I knew little about until yesterday. I knew a couple of things: Martin Gardner wrote about them, mentioning among other … Continue reading

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Dark thoughts

Last night, a concert in the Spitalfields Music Winter Festival, entitled “This year’s midnight”, given by the viol group Fretwork and the mezzo-soprano Clare Wilkinson, with readings by the actor Simon Callow. The title is taken from a poem “A … Continue reading

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Mathematical metaphor

Last week, the book Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont emerged from its hiding place under the sofa. So I browsed a couple of chapters. In the book, the authors take various sociologists, literary theorists, psychoanalysts, and others, … Continue reading

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Open access and metrics: the Ball committee report

I mentioned this report in an earlier post; I am grateful to John Ball for directing me to the report on the web (here; the press release is here). The overall conclusions are clear. The ICSU goals for open access … Continue reading

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Hood fellowships

On Monday, we went to a celebration of 10 years of the Hood Foundation, in University House, a lovely building which had been a synagogue and then a bank and was now offices for part of the university administration (with … Continue reading

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Poe on algebraists

Michael Kinyon reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s comments on algebraists in his story “The Purloined Letter”. Here they are in full. “But is this really a poet?” I asked. “There are two brothers, I know; and both have attained … Continue reading

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