Log24

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Thursday October 5, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 9:11 AM
In Touch with God

(Title of an interview with
the late Paul Halmos, mathematician)

Since Halmos died on Yom Kippur, his thoughts on God may be of interest to some.

From a 1990 interview:

“What’s the best part of being a mathematician? I’m not a religious man, but it’s almost like being in touch with God when you’re thinking about mathematics. God is keeping secrets from us, and it’s fun to try to learn some of the secrets.”

I personally prefer Annie Dillard on God:

“… if Holy the Firm is matter at its dullest, Aristotle’s materia prima, absolute zero, and since Holy the Firm is in touch with the Absolute at base, then the circle is unbroken.  And it is…. Holy the Firm is in short the philosopher’s stone.”

Some other versions of
the philosopher’s stone:

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And, more simply,
April 28, 2004:

This last has the virtue of
being connected with Halmos
via his remarks during the
“In Touch with God” interview:

“…at the root of all deep mathematics there is a combinatorial insight… the really original, really deep insights are always combinatorial….”
 
“Combinatorics, the finite case, is where the genuine, deep insight is.”

See also the remark of Halmos that serves as an epigraph to Theme and Variations.

Finally, it should be noted that
the 4×9 black rectangle

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has also served
at least one interpreter
as a philosopher’s stone,
and is also the original
“Halmos tombstone.”

(See previous entry.)

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