Plato, graphs, vision and another anchor

I’m not sure what led me to David Mumford’s Why I am a Platonist, which appeared in a 2008 issue of the European Mathematical Society (EMS) Newsletter, but I’m happy I found it. David Mumford is currently Professor Emeritus at Brown and Harvard Universities. The EMS piece is a clear and straightforward exposition of […]

“…an anchor in the cosmic swirl.”

Looking through some blog sites that I once frequented (but have recently neglected) I saw that John Horgan’s Cross Check had a piece on George Johnson’s book Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order. This quickly caught my attention because Horgan and Johnson figured prominently in my mind in the late […]

Computations can be very natural

A recent post on Mind Hacks challenged the perspective outlined in a NY Times op-ed by psychologist Gary Marcus with the title Face It, Your Brain Is a Computer. The title of Marcus’ piece may be misleading. The brain/computer analogy that he proposes is more a strategy than a theory. But the rejection of brain/computer […]

M.C. Escher’s visual inquiries

The Amazing World of MC Escher is a new exhibit at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. It will be there from June 27 to September 27. The exhibit prompted a nice piece on Escher in The Guardian. Author Steven Poole mentions, but does not much explore, the relationship between Escher’s work […]

Poe’s cosmology

A post from John Horgan with the title Did Edgar Allan Poe Foresee Modern Physics and Cosmology? quickly got my attention. Horgan writes in response to an essay by Marilynne Robinson in the February 5 New York Review of Books where Poe’s book-length prose poem Eureka was brought to his attention. Eureka was written by […]

Reanimating the living world

Each year, Edge.org asks contributors to respond to their annual question. In 2014, the question was: What scientific idea is ready for retirement? There were 174 interesting responses, but one that got my attention was written by Scott Sampson (author, Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life). The idea that Sampson would like […]

A mathematical philosophy – a digital view

I’ve become fascinated with Gregory Chaitin’s exploration of randomness in computing and his impulse to bring these observations to bear on physical, mathematical, and biological theories. His work inevitably addresses epistemological questions – what it means to know, to comprehend – and leads him to move (as he says in a recent paper) in the […]

What we see when….

I recently listened to Krys Boyd’s interview with Peter Mendelsund, author of the new book What We See When We Read, on North Texas’ public radio. Mendelsund is an award-winning book jacket designer. The interview had the effect of connecting his thoughts about reading to thoughts that I have had about mathematics. It wasn’t immediately […]

Gravitational waves, cathedrals and mathematics

In their March 22 issue, New Scientist reported on the recent detection of gravitational waves that are predicted by the inflationary theory in physics. This observation could help reveal details of what the cosmos was like “in the first slivers of a second” following the big bang. It supports the theory that implies the existence […]

What the experience of mathematical beauty could imply

Back in September, 1992 Semir Zeki wrote an article for what was then a special issue of Scientific American called Mind and Brain. In it he described what was known about how the brain produces visual images. I have referred back to the article many times because it highlights the philosophical implications of our current […]