Tag Archives: poetry

Mathematics, poetry and beauty

Comparing mathematics with poetry is an infinitely rich game. For every opinion you express, there is an equally valid counter-opinion. Contrasted to Hilbert’s dismissal of a student who had left mathematics for poetry, “I always thought he didn’t have enough … 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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Hopkins on the Northern Lights

Gerard Manley Hopkins was a poet who, when he looked at something, saw it. In my view, much of the difficulty of his poetry comes from his honest striving to find words to record exactly what he saw. Here is … Continue reading

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Strange Attractors

Barry Mazur wrote a book Imagining numbers:(particularly the square root of minus fifteen), which was intended to convey to non-mathematicians that the act of imagination in mathematics is quite comparable to that in poetry. Specifically, he wants to explain how … Continue reading

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Lex poems

Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, “poetry = the best words in the best order”. Now lexicographers believe they know the best order for words, to put them in their dictionaries. So one could consider a lex poem to be one where … Continue reading

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Poetry and science

In The Age of Wonder, subtitled “How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science”, Richard Holmes quotes John Bonnycastle, from the preface of the 1811 edition of his book Introduction to Astronomy in Letters to his Pupil, … Continue reading

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Bob Dylan is 70

Happy birthday, Bob! I mention this here not just because I like his work, but because he is an artist who is not scared of mathematics. He described Robbie Robertson as “the only mathematical guitar genius I’ve ever run into … Continue reading

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My brother, sister and I rode horses to primary school. The experience affected us differently. My sister still believes “four legs good, two legs bad” as a means of transport, while when my brother got a dairy farm he rounded … Continue reading

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