Maths Blind

First Day. Frawggy. Not the nice type of fog that sits a few meters off the ground, the wet yucky kind that is everywhere. Hence to gym, and a podcast episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” on Shackleton.

Shackleton is not someone I pay much mind of. Explorers aren’t that engaging. The most instructive thing about them is their inability to get along in society. So their chief benefit and therapy is going elsewhere.

The podcast was slanted rather heavily about climate change. Differences between then and now. They kept trying to make some moral/ethical connection but it failed consistently.

Speaking of failure, I ran across an article [Link] this weekend entitled “Gravity waves exemplify the power of intelligent equations.” And yes, this is one of those horrible parasitic pieces of journalism that use the current “big” topic as a shoehorn for something almost orthogonal. 

In this case, the article is really about the physics embedded/implied by maths. Gravitational waves are such a thing since Einstein saw them in his Relativity maths. 

This is not a new thing. It’s something you learn as an undergraduate, at least in physics. To a lesser extent in Chemistry and vanishingly in Biology. And it is a wonderful thing, I was particularly fulfilled by a quote from Heinrich Hertz,

“It is impossible to study this wonderful theory, without feeling as if the mathematical equations had an independent life and an intelligence of their own, as if they were wiser than ourselves, indeed wiser than their discoverer, as if they gave forth more than he had put into them.”

But the thing that struck me yesterday, and saddened me, was that since half of humanity is maths blind (acalculate) and much of the rest mind wiped on the subject, they can never enjoy the thrill and beauty of this. They have to live their lives in the dark, so to speak, unaware of what may be.

Very Greek Tragedy, I think.