A mathematician’s playground

Recently, I had the opportunity, to listen to Vered Rom-Kedar give a public lecture entitled Billiard is not just a game. Until now, I haven’t thought much about this expanding branch of mathematics but, for me, the lecture highlighted some of the reasons I find mathematics so captivating, and it encouraged me to keep […]

What does the mind’s eye see?

My attention was recently brought to a discussion of grid cells and spatial imagery as they relate to cognitive strengths in dyslexic individuals. The discussion takes place in the book The Dyslexic Advantage by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide, and it amplified many of the thoughts I have expressed about the biological aspect of […]

Mathematical Universes

Physics theoretician Nima Arkani-Hamed, at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, has recently suggested that maybe space and time are not what we think they are. In a recent interview with Natalie Wolchover, for a New Yorker article, he expressed renewed interest in a point made by Richard Feynman in 1964. [1] Feynman […]

Mathematics in light of free energy

In my last post I tried to argue that Humberto Maturana’s biology of language might have something to say about the biological nature of mathematics. This biology of language that Maturana proposes is understood in the context of autopoiesis (the continuous self-creation of any living system) that is his fundamental definition of life. I […]

Autopoiesis, free energy, and mathematics

I have long been interested in the notion of autopoiesis introduced by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in 1972. In short, autopoiesis is the model of living systems that sees every living system (from single cells to multicellular organisms) as individual unities whose living is the creation of themselves. Through the interaction of their […]

Journeying in and out

When ecently reminded of the images in Catholic texts and prayers, I considered, again, my hunch that mathematics could somehow help connect unrelated aspects our experience, in particular counterintuitive religious images and familiar sensory experience. I am not suggesting that mathematics would explain these images, but more that it could be used to encourage, perhaps […]

Spaces upon spaces – topology and slum conditions

I didn’t know anything about topology before I entered graduate school, but I continue to see it as one of the more provocative specialties in mathematics and an important transition of thought. Most definitions of the subject describe it as the study of the properties of objects that are preserved through deformations like stretching and […]

Prejudice in an abstract world

I was struck today by the title of an article in Science News that read, Before his early death, Riemann freed geometry from Euclidean prejudices. The piece, by science writer Tom Siegfried, was no doubt inspired by the recent claim from award-winning mathematician Michael Atiyah that he has proved the long standing Riemann hypothesis, one […]

To be or not to be abstract

I’m not completely sure I understand where my desire to grasp the value of abstractions is taking me, but as I think about mathematics, and more recent trends in the sciences, I keep wanting to get further and further behind what our symbolic reasoning is actually doing, and how it’s doing it. I have this […]

Abstractions: What’s happening with them?

We all generally know the meaning of abstraction. We all have some opinion, for example, about the value of abstract painting. And I’ve heard from many that mathematics is too abstract to be understood or even interesting. (But I must admit, it is exactly this about mathematics that keeps me so captivated). An abstraction is […]