Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Monster as Big as the Ritz

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 11:30 AM

“The colorful story of this undertaking begins with a bang.”

— Martin Gardner on the death of Évariste Galois

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Monster

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 9:00 AM

In memory of Princeton mathematician John Nash

"For the past six years all over the world 
experts in the branch of abstract algebra
called group theory have been struggling
to capture a group known as the monster."

—Martin Gardner, Scientific American ,  June 1980

"When the Hawkline Monster moved to get a better view
of what was happening, the shadow, after having checked
all the possibilities of light, had discovered a way that it
could shift itself in front of the monster, so that the monster
at this crucial time would be blinded by darkness for a few
seconds, did so, causing confusion to befall the monster.

This was all that the shadow could do and it hoped that this
would give Greer and Cameron the edge they would need
to destroy the Hawkline Monster using whatever plan they
had come up with, for it seemed that they must have a plan
if they were to have any chance at all with the monster and
they did not seem like fools.

When Cameron yelled at Greer, the shadow interpreted this
as the time to move and did so. It obscured the vision of the
Hawkline Monster for a few seconds, knowing full well that if
the monster were destroyed it would be destroyed, too, but
death was better than going on living like this, being a part of
this evil."

— Richard Brautigan, The Hawkline Monster , 1974

From the post For Scientific Witch Hunters of October 30,
an illustration from The Boston Globe —

From the post Colorful Story (All Souls' Day),  
an Illustration from Google Book Search —

Earlier in Brautigan's tale

" Everybody started to leave the parlor to go downstairs
and pour out the Hawkline Monster but just as
they reached the door and one of the Hawkline women
had her hand on the knob, Cameron said, 'Hold it for a
second. I want to get myself a little whiskey.' "

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Gardner Tribute

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 1:00 PM

“It is a melancholy pleasure that what may be [Martin] Gardner’s last published piece, a review of Amir Alexander’s Duel at Dawn: Heroes, Martyrs & the Rise of Modern Mathematics, will appear next week in our June issue.”

Roger Kimball of The New Criterion, May 23, 2010.

The Gardner piece is now online.  It contains…

Gardner’s tribute to Galois—

“Galois was a thoroughly obnoxious nerd,
suffering from what today would be called
a ‘personality disorder.’  His anger was
paranoid and unremitting.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:35 PM

Randi reportedly died on Tuesday, October 20.

“Italic with Derision”

“These things used to be on the back of cornflakes boxes,”
Mr. Randi, his voice italic with derision, once told the
television interviewer Larry King. “But apparently some
scientists either don’t eat cornflakes, or they don’t read
the back of the box.” — Margalit Fox

See as well …

http://m759.net/wordpress/?s=Monster+Gardner .

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Taken In

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 9:36 AM

A passage that may or may not have influenced Madeleine L’Engle’s
writings about the tesseract :

From Mere Christianity , by C. S. Lewis (1952) —

“Book IV – Beyond Personality:
or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity”
. . . .

I warned you that Theology is practical. The whole purpose for which we exist is to be thus taken into the life of God. Wrong ideas about what that life is, will make it harder. And now, for a few minutes, I must ask you to follow rather carefully.

You know that in space you can move in three ways—to left or right, backwards or forwards, up or down. Every direction is either one of these three or a compromise between them. They are called the three Dimensions. Now notice this. If you are using only one dimension, you could draw only a straight line. If you are using two, you could draw a figure: say, a square. And a square is made up of four straight lines. Now a step further. If you have three dimensions, you can then build what we call a solid body, say, a cube—a thing like a dice or a lump of sugar. And a cube is made up of six squares.

Do you see the point? A world of one dimension would be a straight line. In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways—in ways you could not imagine if you knew only the simpler levels.

Now the Christian account of God involves just the same principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings—just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine.

In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. And when we do, we are then, for the first time in our lives, getting some positive idea, however faint, of something super-personal—something more than a person. It is something we could never have guessed, and yet, once we have been told, one almost feels one ought to have been able to guess it because it fits in so well with all the things we know already.

You may ask, “If we cannot imagine a three-personal Being, what is the good of talking about Him?” Well, there isn’t any good talking about Him. The thing that matters is being actually drawn into that three-personal life, and that may begin any time —tonight, if you like.

. . . .

But beware of being drawn into the personal life of the Happy Family .


“The colorful story of this undertaking begins with a bang.”

And ends with

Martin Gardner on Galois

“Galois was a thoroughly obnoxious nerd,
suffering from what today would be called
a ‘personality disorder.’  His anger was
paranoid and unremitting.”

Monday, November 2, 2015

Colorful Story

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:00 AM

"The office of color in the color line
is a very plain and subordinate one.
It simply advertises the objects of
oppression, insult, and persecution.
It is not the maddening liquor, but
the black letters on the sign
telling the world where it may be had."

— Frederick Douglass, "The Color Line,"
The North American Review , Vol. 132,
No. 295, June 1881, page 575

Or gold letters.

From a search for Seagram in this  journal —

Seagram VO ad, image posted on All Souls's Day 2015

A Seagram 'colorful tale'

"The colorful story of this undertaking begins with a bang."

— Martin Gardner on the death of Évariste Galois

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 4:00 PM

"I’ve had the privilege recently of being a Harvard University
professor, and there I learned one of the greatest of Harvard
jokes. A group of rabbis are on the road to Golgotha and 
Jesus is coming by under the cross. The young rabbi bursts
into tears and says, 'Oh, God, the pity of it!' The old rabbi says,
'What is the pity of it?' The young rabbi says, 'Master, Master,
what a teacher he was.'

'Didn’t publish!'

That cold tenure- joke at Harvard contains a deep truth.
Indeed, Jesus and Socrates did not publish."

— George Steiner, 2002 talk at York University

Related material

See also Steiner on Galois.

Les Miserables  at the Academy Awards

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Shining of May 29

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM

(Continued from May 29, 2002)

May 29, 1832—


Évariste Galois, Lettre de Galois à M. Auguste Chevalier

Après cela, il se trouvera, j'espère, des gens qui trouveront leur profit à déchiffrer tout ce gâchis.

(Later there will be, I hope, some people who will find it to their advantage to decipher all this mess.)

Martin Gardner on the above letter—

"Galois had written several articles on group theory, and was merely annotating and correcting those earlier published papers."

The Last Recreations , by Martin Gardner, published by Springer in 2007, page 156.

Commentary from Dec. 2011 on Gardner's word "published" —

(Click to enlarge.)

IMAGE- Peter M. Neumann, 'Galois and His Groups,' EMS Newsletter, Dec. 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:07 AM

Part I: Timothy Gowers on equivalence relations

Part II: Martin Gardner on normal subgroups

Part III: Evariste Galois on normal subgroups

"In all the history of science there is no completer example
 of the triumph of crass stupidity over untamable genius…."

— Eric Temple Bell, Men of Mathematics

See also an interesting definition and Weyl on Galois.

Update of 6:29 PM EDT Oct. 30, 2011—

For further details, see Herstein's phrase
"a tribute to the genius of Galois."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Celebration of Mind

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 PM

"Why the Celebration?"

"Martin Gardner passed away on May 22, 2010."

IMAGE-- Imaginary movie poster- 'The Galois Connection'- from stoneship.org

Imaginary movie poster from stoneship.org

Context— The Gardner Tribute.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Social Network…

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 9:29 AM

… In the Age of Citation

Social network analysis is focused on the patterning of the social
relationships that link social actors. Typically, network data take the
form of a square-actor by actor-binary adjacency matrix, where
each row and each column in the matrix represents a social actor. A
cell entry is 1 if and only if a pair of actors is linked by some social
relationship of interest (Freeman 1989).

— "Using Galois Lattices to Represent Network Data,"
by Linton C. Freeman and Douglas R. White,
Sociological Methodology,  Vol. 23, pp. 127–146 (1993)

From this paper's CiteSeer page


766  Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications – WASSERMAN, FAUST – 1994
100 The act of creation – Koestler – 1964
 75 Visual Thinking – Arnheim – 1969

Visual Image of the Problem—

From a Google search today:


Related material—


"It is better to light one candle…"

"… the early favorite for best picture at the Oscars" — Roger Moore

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Galois Window

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 5:01 AM

Yesterday’s excerpt from von Balthasar supplies some Catholic aesthetic background for Galois geometry.

That approach will appeal to few mathematicians, so here is another.

Euclid’s Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace  is a book by Leonard Mlodinow published in 2002.

More recently, Mlodinow is the co-author, with Stephen Hawking, of The Grand Design  (published on September 7, 2010).

A review of Mlodinow’s book on geometry—

“This is a shallow book on deep matters, about which the author knows next to nothing.”
— Robert P. Langlands, Notices of the American Mathematical Society,  May 2002

The Langlands remark is an apt introduction to Mlodinow’s more recent work.

It also applies to Martin Gardner’s comments on Galois in 2007 and, posthumously, in 2010.

For the latter, see a Google search done this morning—


Here, for future reference, is a copy of the current Google cache of this journal’s “paged=4” page.

Note the link at the bottom of the page in the May 5, 2010, post to Peter J. Cameron’s web journal. Following the link, we find…

For n=4, there is only one factorisation, which we can write concisely as 12|34, 13|24, 14|23. Its automorphism group is the symmetric group S4, and acts as S3 on the set of three partitions, as we saw last time; the group of strong automorphisms is the Klein group.

This example generalises, by taking the factorisation to consist of the parallel classes of lines in an affine space over GF(2). The automorphism group is the affine group, and the group of strong automorphisms is its translation subgroup.

See also, in this  journal, Window and Window, continued (July 5 and 6, 2010).

Gardner scoffs at the importance of Galois’s last letter —

“Galois had written several articles on group theory, and was
merely annotating and correcting those earlier published papers.”
Last Recreations, page 156

For refutations, see the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society  in March 1899 and February 1909.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mathematics and Narrative, continued

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:14 PM

"By groping toward the light we are made to realize
 how deep the darkness is around us."
  — Arthur Koestler, The Call Girls: A Tragi-Comedy,
      Random House, 1973, page 118

A 1973 review of Koestler's book—

"Koestler's 'call girls,' summoned here and there
 by this university and that foundation
 to perform their expert tricks, are the butts
 of some chilling satire."

Examples of Light—

Felix Christian Klein (1849- June 22, 1925) and Évariste Galois (1811-1832)

Klein on Galois—

"… in France just about 1830 a new star of undreamt-of brilliance— or rather a meteor, soon to be extinguished— lighted the sky of pure mathematics: Évariste Galois."

— Felix Klein, Development of Mathematics in the 19th Century, translated by Michael Ackerman. Brookline, Mass., Math Sci Press, 1979. Page 80.

"… um 1830 herum in Frankreich als ein neuer Stern von ungeahntem Glanze am Himmel der reinen Mathematik aufleuchtet, um freilich, einem Meteor gleich, sehr bald zu verlöschen: Évariste Galois."

— Felix Klein, Vorlesungen Über Die Entwicklung Der Mathematick Im 19. Jahrhundert. New York, Chelsea Publishing Co., 1967. (Vol. I, originally published in Berlin in 1926.) Page 88.

Examples of Darkness—

Martin Gardner on Galois—

"Galois was a thoroughly obnoxious nerd,
 suffering from what today would be called
 a 'personality disorder.'  His anger was
 paranoid and unremitting."

Gardner was reviewing a recent book about Galois by one Amir Alexander.

Alexander himself has written some reviews relevant to the Koestler book above.

See Alexander on—

The 2005 Mykonos conference on Mathematics and Narrative

A series of workshops at Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation between 2003 and 2006. "The meetings brought together professional mathematicians (and other mathematical scientists) with authors, poets, artists, playwrights, and film-makers to work together on mathematically-inspired literary works."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Harvard Style

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 5:01 PM

"I wonder if there's just been a critical mass
of creepy stories about Harvard
in the last couple of years…
A kind of piling on of
    nastiness and creepiness…"

Margaret Soltan, October 23, 2006

Harvard University Press
  on Facebook

Harvard University Press Harvard University Press
Martin Gardner on demythologizing mathematicians:
"Galois was a thoroughly obnoxious nerd"
  May 26 at 6:28 pm via Ping.f

The book that the late Gardner was reviewing
was published in April by Harvard University Press.

If Gardner's remark were true,
Galois would fit right in at Harvard. Example—
  The Harvard math department's pie-eating contest

Harvard Math Department Pi Day event

Rite of Passage

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM


"On June 2, Évariste Galois was buried in a common grave of the Montparnasse cemetery whose exact location is unknown."

Évariste Galois, Lettre de Galois à M. Auguste Chevalier

Après cela, il y aura, j'espère, des gens qui trouveront leur profit à déchiffrer tout ce gâchis.

(Later there will be, I hope, some people who will find it to their advantage to decipher all this mess.)

Martin Gardner on the above letter—

"Galois had written several articles on group theory, and was merely annotating and correcting those earlier published papers."

The Last Recreations, by Martin Gardner, published by Springer in 2007, page 156.

Leonard E. Dickson

Image-- Leonard E. Dickson on the posthumous fundamental memoir of Galois

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