Weekly 5 Blog Post/Book Work
In the Beginning
When I first laid my eyes on Edward Frenkel's 292 page text written entirely about math, I was quite honestly frightened. I couldn't help but to think to myself how awful it was going to be to read a text that large about math... Yeah, even as a math major! Not only that, I thought he must be a brave man to not only put the words love and math into the same sentence and title, but to write an entire text. My initial thoughts were that I was going to be reading about how much the author loved math and it would be full of complicated algorithms, equations, graphs, math sub-groups, etc. Basically, I thought it would put me to sleep at every page turn. Yes, this is coming from a math major. But I could not have been more wrong in my assumptions.
That Face You Make When...
When I began my journey as a math major surprisingly I was one of those people who thought I would only be working with numbers, you know all the "fun" algebra stuff. I couldn't have imagined being introduced to proof writing, Euclid, or derivatives, let alone actually learning to solve and/or prove parts of these maths. And then I hit the point in my college career where people gave "the face" when I told them I was a math major. At first I didn't understand why this sudden fear came over peoples' faces when I mentioned math. Then calculus showed up and I too was making AND feeling that face! But I decided to take on these upper level math classes and subjects as best I could. After 5+ years of spending 75% of my semesters studying a "new" math, I started to understand why math was seen as the horror movie of school subjects. When you're on the outside looking in, it can be scary trying to, for example, explain why everything you were taught was right because the teacher said so. And for some being able to little things like prove WHY even integers are even is a beautiful thing. And for others the question remain, "how can math be beautiful"?
"Being a mathematician means you don't take 'obvious' things for granted but try to reason..." (Frenkel, 16)
With his text I think Frenkel set out to open up peoples' minds about mathematics and to show people that the fear they felt was not caused by math itself, but by the stereotypes we see everyday in the media and anywhere for that matter. When people think of mathematicians they think of withdrawn, nerdy, awkward, genius-like individuals. People who don't necessarily fit society's norm. And they think of math as number crunching and graph drawing. But this text does a great job of showing how math is beautiful. Not only that, it is a commonality among countries. It is an art form in itself. Instead of painting with paint and paint brushes, math uses proofs, graphs, tessellations, and many other things. It is more than numbers. It is the very foundation , in a way, of our world. When you read Frenkels book, you realize that it isn't money that makes the world go around... It is the math behind the money. It isn't the architects that create our objects, it is the math behind the architect. And when beautiful things are created, they are created using math. Think about it. What are shapes? What are lines? Numbers? Measurements?
Overall I think Frenkel was able to take some of the scary out of math. I found myself really connecting with his chapters on symmetry and love. It may seem a small matter to some, but for me it opened my eyes because I never really thought about why one object was more symmetrical than another. Like Frenkel, I provided answers without really taking into account why. The mentor goes on to ask Frenkel which was more symmetrical, a circle table or a square table. Like most Frenkel said the circle table, but when asked why he hesitated (like most). The mentor then goes on to explain that we know the circle table is more symmetrical than the square table because no matter how you move the table it remains the same. It has infinitely many symmetries. But, the square table only has four symmetries (90, 180, 270, and 360 degrees) because if you move it any other degrees' it would not be the same. For me, this was mind blowing. And it shows just how much math can open one's mind. just imagine if people took the way we question things (and prove) in math and used this in everyday life. We would have a world where a lot more people didn't just go along with things because someone said so. We'd investigate more!
9x-7i > 3(3x-7u) = i < 3U
Lastly, I just have to hit on how Frenkel was able to effectively put love and math in the same text. I mean after reading the chapters before and taking in the information, just imagine if one could come up with a formula for love. I think he gives us something to really think about. I don't mean to dwell on being able to actually create a formula for love, but just think about what we can create with math. Not only that, bringing in love, another universal thing, and being able to tie to something a lot of people are fearful of, is genius. In a lot of ways math and love are similar. Both are something that can be so beautiful, but at times the road to get there is rough. We don't always get love right on the first try, but we keep trying. Just like with math.
***I highly recommend reading this text! It was worth every penny and then some! It goes to show one should love and learn often!***