Log24

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Raiders of the Lost Stone

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 8:48 PM

(Continued

 

Two Students of Structure

A comment on Sean Kelly's Christmas Morning column on "aliveness"
in the New York Times  philosophy series The Stone  —

Diana Senechal's 1999 doctoral thesis at Yale was titled
"Diabolical Structures in the Poetics of Nikolai Gogol."

Her mother, Marjorie Senechal, has written extensively on symmetry
and served as editor-in-chief of The Mathematical Intelligencer .
From a 2013 memoir by Marjorie Senechal —

"While I was in Holland my enterprising student assistant at Smith had found, in Soviet Physics – Crystallography, an article by N. N. Sheftal' on tetrahedral penetration twins. She gave it to me on my return. It was just what I was looking for. The twins Sheftal' described had evidently begun as (111) contact twins, with the two crystallites rotated 60o with respect to one another. As they grew, he suggested, each crystal overgrew the edges of the other and proceeded to spread across the adjacent facet.  When all was said and done, they looked like they'd grown through each other, but the reality was over-and-around. Brilliant! I thought. Could I apply this to cubes? No, evidently not. Cube facets are all (100) planes. But . . . these crystals might not have been cubes in their earliest stages, when twinning occurred! I wrote a paper on "The mechanism of certain growth twins of the penetration type" and sent it to Martin Buerger, editor of Neues Jarbuch für Mineralogie. This was before the Wrinch symposium; I had never met him. Buerger rejected it by return mail, mostly on the grounds that I hadn't quoted any of Buerger's many papers on twinning. And so I learned about turf wars in twin domains. In fact I hadn't read his papers but I quickly did. I added a reference to one of them, the paper was published, and we became friends.[5]

After reading Professor Sheftal's paper I wrote to him in Moscow; a warm and encouraging correspondence ensued, and we wrote a paper together long distance.[6] Then I heard about the scientific exchanges between the Academies of Science of the USSR and USA. I applied to spend a year at the Shubnikov Institute for Crystallography, where Sheftal' worked. I would, I proposed, study crystal growth with him, and color symmetry with Koptsik. To my delight, I was accepted for an 11-month stay. Of course the children, now 11 and 14, would come too and attend Russian schools and learn Russian; they'd managed in Holland, hadn't they? Diana, my older daughter, was as delighted as I was. We had gone to Holland on a Russian boat, and she had fallen in love with the language. (Today she holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature from Yale.) . . . . 
. . .
 we spent the academic year 1978-79 in Moscow.

Philosophy professors and those whose only interest in mathematics
is as a path to the occult may consult the Log24 posts tagged Tsimtsum.

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