Friday, July 22, 2011

The Aristophanic View

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:00 AM

"Some mathematicians are birds, others are frogs.
Birds fly high in the air and survey broad vistas of
mathematics out to the far horizon. They delight in
concepts that unify our thinking and bring together
diverse problems from different parts of the
landscape. Frogs live in the mud below and see
only the flowers that grow nearby. They delight in
the details of particular objects, and they solve
problems one at a time. I happen to be a frog, but
many of my best friends are birds. The main theme
of my talk tonight is this. Mathematics needs both
birds and frogs. Mathematics is rich and beautiful
because birds give it broad visions and frogs give it
intricate details. Mathematics is both great art and
important science, because it combines generality
of concepts with depth of structures. It is stupid to
claim that birds are better than frogs because they
see farther, or that frogs are better than birds
because they see deeper. The world of mathematics
is both broad and deep, and we need birds and
frogs working together to explore it.

This talk is called the Einstein lecture…."

— Freeman Dyson, Notices of the American
Mathematical Society
, February 2009

IMAGE- Joan Didion on a naked woman, a fireman in priest's clothing, and a window

The Didion reading was suggested by the "6212" in yesterday evening's New York Lottery.

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