Coffee cups and dark matter

I measured how much coffee fits in my coffee cup.  Eight ounces, which, of course, is a cup.

Now, how much dark matter is there in the universe?  I think I’ll need more than my kitchen measuring cups to figure that out.  I wonder if Macy’s has anything useful on sale to help with the problem.

Published in: on October 31, 2009 at 10:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Pocket notebooks, cheap pens, and wandering

A small pocket notebook and a cheap pen come in handy.  One ought to have a space where one can write or work geometry problems without fear of fucking things up–no matter where one may wander.

Published in: on October 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

At the Bob Dylan show

I saw Bob Dylan at the Aragon last night.  He started off with a hard rocking version of “Watching the River Flow”, my personal anthem, and he and his band stayed hard rocking until the end of the show even on the really old songs from the Sixties.  They were totally smoking as we like to say at State Street.  They even played “Thunder on the Mountain”, another personal favorite.  One of their encore songs was “Like a Rolling Stone” done with all the hardness and harshness that it deserves and only Dylan could conjure.

It was my first Dylan show.  I never imagined in my wildest dreams he could put together a band and a blend of tunes that was that off the scale good.

Thanks, for the ticket, Billy.

Published in: on October 30, 2009 at 11:54 am  Leave a Comment  

David Hume, essays, and blogging

The essay might be the most perfect form of writing.  (I’m thinking of David Hume’s essays.)  The essay displays a persona (mask).  The essay guides a path to new ways of thinking if written well.  The essay shares an intimate piece of mind. (All propositions about essays form an inconsistent set of sentences, yet one cannot tell for certain which ones are true or false.)

I wonder if these days when words spar with mathematics for my time and attention are telling me something

I wish I were dining with David Hume this evening.  I’d like to get his thoughts about blogging.  Would he laugh when I told him this blog would be my writing legacy if I died tomorrow, or would he politely pity me?

Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Drawings and the future

I spent the afternoon sitting in a corner at Pippin’s drawing diagrams on the computer for my geometry book.  At first, it was drudgery, but then my mind wandered off the task at hand.  The diagrams started to look pretty.  Other drawings came to mind and I explored them.–things I had not thought about.

Questions recurred.  What if this silly geometry book is the only thing I really work on or care about?  Would my life be any different?

Probably not.

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm  Comments (2)  

What to write about?

On a given finite straight line to construct an equilateral triangle.

Proposition I.1, Elements, Euclid

You might naively ask: what are all the interesting propositions you can prove about equilateral triangles?  I suspect enough propositions to create a quirky yet interesting book for the mathematically inclined.  Of course, one can generalize to regular polygons, polyhedrons, and polytopes, but by then you would have Coxeter’s splendid book Regular Polytopes.  Let the first project consist of equilateral triangles.

It’s warm and sunny.  I dream about and drift through a land whose significance lies in its interesting propositions.  Or to paraphrase Wallace Stevens: not dreams of life itself, but dreams of propositions about life.

Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Proving the easy

Proofs loom large in elementary number theory for two reasons.  First, many of the theorems (including those contained in some of the problems in this book) are so simple to state and so easy to understand that one is deceived into thinking that they must also be easy to prove, and this is not always the case.  Also, there is much more variety in the kinds of reasoning invoked than is the case in more elementary mathematics, the latter, more or less by definition, being restricted to material that is both useful and relatively easy to master.  It is not merely because number theory is not useful in commerce and engineering that it is not customarily learned before calculus, as it logically could be.  The variety of proof techniques sometimes seems so large that students regard number theory as a “bag of tricks,” but of course this is a matter of familiarity.  What is a trick the first time one meets it is a device the second time and a method the third time.

William J. LeVeque, Fundamentals of Number Theory

Now, extrapolate to other fields of endeavor.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Worse than love

What do you do with a blog when you are totally bewitched and consumed by math problems?  It’s worse than true love.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  

I wish….

… WordPress didn’t have such a terribly awful mobile connection. I’d try to blog more Iive if they did.

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

NFL Update – Rush Limbaugh edition

By now, we’ve all heard or read the news that Rush Limbaugh was kicked out of the consortium trying to buy the St. Louis Rams.

Word on the street is that he had to pass a quiz the consortium gave him and he flunked.  He didn’t know what NFL stood for.  He couldn’t spell touchdown and didn’t know how many points you got for scoring one.  He thought he was buying the Los Angeles Rams instead of the St. Louis Rams.  He flunked Phys Ed all six years he was in high school.  He said his beverage of choice in the Sky Box was Shirley Temples.

Can you believe all the sniveling and whining coming from certain macho right wingers over the news ?  Just shut the fuck up and go back to playing with your Ken and Barbies.  And every now and then wipe the stains off them.

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 1:20 pm  Comments (2)  

Almost at home.

A dark wet chill morning.  A morning made for writing, studying, and reflecting.  I almost feel at home.

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 8:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Pat Died

Pat is gone.  He died of cancer last week.

I remember you still, Pat.  Those days in our youth when we thought anything was possible and we thought we would live forever, or if we did die, somebody fucked us and it was no fault of our own.  Those memories haunt me as does your newly born ghost.

Tears are streaming down my cheeks.  Just for you, Pat

And maybe, just maybe for me too.

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 1:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Sometimes, it boils down to style and theme

I’d never read any Dan Brown until a friend urged The Lost Symbol upon me.  I’m about half way through.  I’m bored with it.  I chuckle at the ineptness of his prose.  I think I’ll skip to the last couple of chapters and be done with it.

I just picked up the latest James Ellroy novel, Blood’s a Rover, the third book in his underground trilogy which includes American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand.  After reading one page, I am once again enthralled by his super-spare prose style.  Ellroy is one of my favorite stylists.  His style fits perfectly with his narratives and themes.

Goodbye, Brown; hello, Ellroy.  Gauss, you may have to wait a spell too for my return.

Published in: on October 10, 2009 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  

The days with Gauss

I picked up a notebook at Walgreen’s yesterday.  It’s just for my notes on Disquisitiones Arithmeticae.  I liken the Gauss experience to reading Hume.  It doesn’t get any better.

Published in: on October 3, 2009 at 10:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Disquisitiones Arithmeticae and me

Gauss wrote his classic book on number theory, Disquisitiones Arthmeticae, in 1798 when he was 21 years of age.  The book collected and organized previous results in number theory.  To that he added many stunning new results of his own.  The book set a new standard in logical demonstration and rigor.  The book led the way to further fruitful investigations in number theory.  Thus, we may consider it one of the true classics of mathematics.

In the summer of 1974 I purchased a copy of Disquisitiones Arthmeticae at a used book sale.  A little later, I purchased a notebook and began taking notes as I studied the book.  While rummaging through the book closet yesterday, I found the tattered book.  The notebook seems to be lost though.  Oh well, empty notebooks are easy to come by if not so easily refilled with results.

Mathematics and number theory have advanced far beyond Gauss during the past 200 years.  As i thumb through Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, I follow the mind of one of mathematics’ preeminent geniuses.  I find it exciting that with much effort I can follow what he is doing.

Just maybe, another notebook devoted to the book is in order.

Published in: on October 2, 2009 at 10:57 am  Comments (1)