Log24

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Room

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:00 AM

The concluding instance of a search for "the room"
in this journal (from Mike Nichols's birthday, 2002) —

"His visitor sat upright, oppressed by the silence,
acutely conscious that the doors to the room were locked."

— Recreation by Sylvia Nasar of a scene starring
mathematicians George Mackey and John Nash.

The reviews are in!

See also today's previous post, Perhaps Not Strange Enough.

Perhaps Not Strange Enough

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:00 AM

See also Mackey + Nash in this  journal.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday March 10, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 9:00 AM

The Logic of Dreams

From A Beautiful Mind–

“How could you,” began Mackey, “how could you, a mathematician, a man devoted to reason and logical proof…how could you believe that extraterrestrials are sending you messages? How could you believe that you are being recruited by aliens from outer space to save the world? How could you…?”

Nash looked up at last and fixed Mackey with an unblinking stare as cool and dispassionate as that of any bird or snake. “Because,” Nash said slowly in his soft, reasonable southern drawl, as if talking to himself, “the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously.”

Ideas:

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These numbers may, in the mad way so well portrayed by Sylvia Nasar in the above book, be regarded as telling a story… a story that should, of course, not be taken too seriously.

Friday’s New York numbers (midday 214, evening 711) suggest the dates 2/14 and 7/11.  Clicking on these dates will lead the reader to Log24 entries featuring, among others, T. S. Eliot and Stephen King– two authors not unacquainted with the bizarre logic of dreams.

A link in the 7/11 entry leads to a remark of Noel Gray on Plato’s Meno and “graphic austerity as the tool to bring to the surface, literally and figuratively, the inherent presence of geometry in the mind of the slave.”

Also Friday: an example of graphic austerity– indeed, Gray graphic austerity– in Log24:

Chessboard (Detail)

This illustration refers to chess rather than to geometry, and to the mind of an addict rather than to that of a slave, but chess and geometry, like addiction and slavery, are not unrelated.


Friday’s Pennsylvania numbers, midday 429 and evening 038, suggest that the story includes, appropriately enough in view of the above Beautiful Mind excerpt, Mackey himself.  The midday number suggests the date 4/29, which at Log24 leads to an entry in memory of Mackey.

(Related material: the Harvard Gazette of April 6, 2006, “Mathematician George W. Mackey, 90: Obituary“–  “A memorial service will be held at Harvard’s Memorial Church on April 29 at 2 p.m.“)

Friday’s Pennsylvania evening number 038 tells two other parts of the story involving Mackey…

As Mackey himself might hope, the number may be regarded as a reference to the 38 impressive pages of Varadarajan’s “Mackey Memorial Lecture” (pdf).

More in the spirit of Nash, 38 may also be taken as a reference to Harvard’s old postal address, Cambridge 38, and to the year, 1938, that Mackey entered graduate study at Harvard, having completed his undergraduate studies at what is now Rice University.

Returning to the concept of graphic austerity, we may further simplify the already abstract chessboard figure above to obtain an illustration that has been called both “the field of reason” and “the Garden of Apollo” by an architect, John Outram, discussing his work at Mackey’s undergraduate alma mater:

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Let us hope that Mackey,
a devotee of reason,
is now enjoying the company
of Apollo rather than that of
Tom O’Bedlam:

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For John Nash on his birthday:

I know more than Apollo,
For oft when he lies sleeping
I see the stars at mortal wars
In the wounded welkin weeping.

Tom O’Bedlam’s Song

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Wednesday November 6, 2002

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 2:22 PM

Today's birthdays: Mike Nichols and Sally Field.

Who is Sylvia?
What is she? 

 

From A Beautiful Mind, by Sylvia Nasar:

Prologue

Where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.
— WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

John Forbes Nash, Jr. — mathematical genius, inventor of a theory of rational behavior, visionary of the thinking machine — had been sitting with his visitor, also a mathematician, for nearly half an hour. It was late on a weekday afternoon in the spring of 1959, and, though it was only May, uncomfortably warm. Nash was slumped in an armchair in one corner of the hospital lounge, carelessly dressed in a nylon shirt that hung limply over his unbelted trousers. His powerful frame was slack as a rag doll's, his finely molded features expressionless. He had been staring dully at a spot immediately in front of the left foot of Harvard professor George Mackey, hardly moving except to brush his long dark hair away from his forehead in a fitful, repetitive motion. His visitor sat upright, oppressed by the silence, acutely conscious that the doors to the room were locked. Mackey finally could contain himself no longer. His voice was slightly querulous, but he strained to be gentle. "How could you," began Mackey, "how could you, a mathematician, a man devoted to reason and logical proof…how could you believe that extraterrestrials are sending you messages? How could you believe that you are being recruited by aliens from outer space to save the world? How could you…?"

Nash looked up at last and fixed Mackey with an unblinking stare as cool and dispassionate as that of any bird or snake. "Because," Nash said slowly in his soft, reasonable southern drawl, as if talking to himself, "the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously."

What I  take seriously:

Introduction to Topology and Modern Analysis, by George F. Simmons, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1963 

An Introduction to Abstract Harmonic Analysis, by Lynn H. Loomis, Van Nostrand, Princeton, 1953

"Harmonic Analysis as the Exploitation of Symmetry — A Historical Survey," by George W. Mackey, pp. 543-698, Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, July 1980

Walsh Functions and Their Applications, by K. G. Beauchamp, Academic Press, New York, 1975

Walsh Series: An Introduction to Dyadic Harmonic Analysis, by F. Schipp, P. Simon, W. R. Wade, and J. Pal, Adam Hilger Ltd., 1990

The review, by W. R. Wade, of Walsh Series and Transforms (Golubov, Efimov, and Skvortsov, publ. by Kluwer, Netherlands, 1991) in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, April 1992, pp. 348-359

Music courtesy of Franz Schubert.

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