View Full Version : Math for Peace

Marbella

23rd August 2006, 09:50 AM

Madrid got a mention last night on the hallowed BBC Newsnight programme. King Juan Carlos was presenting field medals to mathematicians during the International Congress of Mathematicians (http://www.icm2006.org/)which Spain is hosting. I really feel such pride when I see Spain is hosting these type of events.

Usually these events will pass by virtually unnoticed, but luckily for Spain this year's event coincided with a declined award by the Russian genius Grigory Perelman (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5274040.stm?ls)who seems to have solved one of math's toughest problems. Anyone fancy having a go at explaining what the problem was let alone the solution!?

I did also notice on the ICM website a link to 'Mathematics for Peace (http://www.uco.es/congresos/mpd/)', with the ambitious objective, "...to act as a multicultural bridge to show how maths can be used to create peace in the world and help towns to develop".

You can read the full story in castellano in El Mundo (http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2006/08/22/ciencia/1156244249.html).

Pepino

23rd August 2006, 09:54 AM

Anyone fancy having a go at explaining what the problem was let alone the solution!?

Something about tieing a rope around a planet-sized doughnut and not cutting it in half. :confused: :confused:

I do have an A grade GCSE, but as we know from recent posts, that's about as much a recognition of mathmatical ability as being able to count to 10 on your fingers! hehe

Besides, they don't even tell you if it was a jam doughnut do they!

Marbella

23rd August 2006, 10:19 AM

Something about tieing a rope around a planet-sized doughnut and not cutting it in half. :confused: :confused:

I do have an A grade GCSE, but as we know from recent posts, that's about as much a recognition of mathmatical ability as being able to count to 10 on your fingers! hehe

Besides, they don't even tell you if it was a jam doughnut do they!

:)

I think you still did well to get an A. If you took the test that was set you and you did it so well as to get an A then you deserve it. You can't ask for more than an A.

I think the wisest thing they did on that news report was end up eating the doughnuts!

Pepino

23rd August 2006, 10:38 AM

:)

I think you still did well to get an A

Well, it was 1989 when I did my GCSEs so I cling to the hope that they were harder back then. ;D

Another reason for my out-of-character good result was that my maths teacher was a Ukrainian who left the country during the Communist years - probably because it was far too free and easy for her tastes :o . Clearly, she thought a group of wayward Mancunian layabouts with terminal acne represented a more willing set of victims than anything the KGB could russle-up back home.

It's strange, despite being scared witless of her at the time, I still remember her fondly! Well, they say time's a great healer. :p

greytop

23rd August 2006, 10:58 AM

Thanks for that link Marbella.

I´ve just finished reading "A Beautiful Mind (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0571212921/202-8624328-8115802?v=glance&n=266239&s=books&v=glance)" which I bought after seeing the film of the same name. It's the story of Nobel prize (for economics) winner , mathematician John Nash who was very active post-WWII and is thought of as the father of economics for his work in the game theory field. He suffered with mental problems and "cured" himself by using his mind. I found his life story very moving and his mathematics colleagues never abandoned him as they thought so highly of his ability. His approach to mathematics was unconventional as he preferred to work things out from the start rather than follow up other people's ideas.

From the description of Perelman he is another one-off who lives for maths, not glory.

Don't worry if you can't follow these higher math theories, neither can many mathematicians at that level as they specialise so much. It is the pursuit of such problems that leads to new maths tools that eventually find uses never dreamed of by their discoverers. About as pure as research gets.

Beyond us mere mortals but we can watch and wonder. For most of us another dimension only occurs after a bottle or two of Catavino's latest find :)

just found this quote (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3005875.stm) " Some are comparing Perelman's work with that of Andrew Wiles, who famously solved Fermat's Last Theorem a decade ago.

Indeed, Wiles was in the Taplin Auditorium at Princeton University, New Jersey, where he holds a chair in mathematics, to hear Perelman describe his work recently. Behind him sat John Nash, the Nobel Laureate who inspired the film A Beautiful Mind."

so it seems John Nash is alive and still taking an interest at an advanced age.

Marbella

23rd August 2006, 11:02 AM

My very first lesson in maths at senior school as an 11 year old had the teacher saying, "who can spell 'mathematics'?" Lots of hands went up and he asked someone at random to write the word on the board. When they spelt it incorrectly he wedged their head between his fat legs and beat their backside with his bare hands. ---I just realised I could have spiced up that sentence with the addition of an extra 'bare'---:D . He asked the question for a second time and less hands went up. One brave (or stupid) soul volunteered an answer, and on failing, received the same perverted punishment. Thankfully at the 3rd time of asking someone got it right and avoided a beating. I hated that teacher and subsequently hated maths until I took a course in adult life which I loved and still do today.

Shows how critical it is to have the right teacher.

Pepino

23rd August 2006, 11:12 AM

he wedged their head between his fat legs and beat their backside with his bare hands.

Blimey, I wonder if Forero Gary will have anything to say on this method of teaching when he next comes online?? ;D

Suddenly my 4 years in a Gulag on the outskirts of Oldham don't seem so bad! hehe

To this day I can remember that the Ukrainian word for Monkey is Malpas (Don't quote me on the spelling though) and I was the recipient of such terms of endearment on a number of occasions. The teacher would reward our failure to answer a question correctly with a trip to the front of the class to sing the nursery rhyme of our choice (we were 12-16 yrs old at the time, so this was a harsh punishment :o ). Rather this than the "thighs of doom" beating though. I think I got off lightly in comparison. ;D

Marbella

23rd August 2006, 11:14 AM

Thanks for that link Marbella.

I´ve just finished reading "A Beautiful Mind (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0571212921/202-8624328-8115802?v=glance&n=266239&s=books&v=glance)" which I bought after seeing the film of the same name. It's the story of Nobel prize (for economics) winner , mathematician John Nash who was very active post-WWII and is thought of as the father of economics for his work in the game theory field. He suffered with mental problems and "cured" himself by using his mind. I found his life story very moving and his mathematics colleagues never abandoned him as they thought so highly of his ability. His approach to mathematics was unconventional as he preferred to work things out from the start rather than follow up other people's ideas.

From the description of Perelman he is another one-off who lives for maths, not glory.

Don't worry if you can't follow these higher math theories, neither can many mathematicians at that level as they specialise so much. It is the pursuit of such problems that leads to new maths tools that eventually find uses never dreamed of by their discoverers. About as pure as research gets.

Beyond us mere mortals but we can watch and wonder. For most of us another dimension only occurs after a bottle or two of Catavino's latest find :)

That's a great film and story, I might buy the book, thanks for the prompt greytop.

I've got another book recommendation, The Music of the Primes (http://www.musicoftheprimes.com/)by Marcus du Sautoy. Prime numbers are fascinating and this is a book which makes the depths of the subject more accessible. You'll often hear du Sautoy on BBC radio 4 - not only is he a very clever chap but he is also a big Arsenal fan! Cool website (http://www.musicoftheprimes.com/) too, I really like the design.

Edith

23rd August 2006, 12:11 PM

I have a mild form of dyscalculus (which is not dyslexia but an inability to use numbers), so my mathematical skills are next to nil. So I'm afraid this is all beyond me. :D

Marbella

23rd August 2006, 12:16 PM

I have a mild form of dyscalculus (which is not dyslexia but an inability to use numbers), so my mathematical skills are next to nil. So I'm afraid this is all beyond me. :D

But you are great at languages, some compensation for the struggle with numbers?

Edith

23rd August 2006, 12:22 PM

But you are great at languages, some compensation for the struggle with numbers?

Perhaps that's true! :)

ValenciaSon

23rd August 2006, 12:30 PM

[quote=Marbella]Madrid got a mention last night on the hallowed BBC Newsnight programme. King Juan Carlos was presenting field medals to mathematicians during the International Congress of Mathematicians (http://www.icm2006.org/)which Spain is hosting. I really feel such pride when I see Spain is hosting these type of events.

Usually these events will pass by virtually unnoticed, but luckily for Spain this year's event coincided with a declined award by the Russian genius Grigory Perelman (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5274040.stm?ls)who seems to have solved one of math's toughest problems. Anyone fancy having a go at explaining what the problem was let alone the solution!?

I just heard the story on NPR last Monday. I believe the century old math problem focuses on the hole of a loop and how do you express it mathematically depending on what is going on with the loop itself.

My math education ended at precalculus, sorry:confused:

greytop

23rd August 2006, 01:45 PM

Quote "Million dollar afterthought

What is all the more remarkable about Perelman's proposal is that he is trying to achieve something far grander than merely solving Poincare's Conjecture.

He is trying to prove the Geometrisation Conjecture proposed by the American mathematician William Thurston in the 1970s - a far more ambitious proposal that defines and characterises all three-dimensional surfaces.

"He's not facing Poincare directly, he's just trying to do this grander scheme," said Professor Peter Sarnak, of Princeton.

After creating so much new mathematics, the Poincare result is just "a million dollar afterthought," he said.

If Perelman has solved Thurston's problem then experts say it would be possible to produce a catalogue of all possible three-dimensional shapes in the Universe, meaning that we could ultimately describe the actual shape of the cosmos itself."

My brain's starting to hurt!

Not even a lunch of salmorejo with a side dish of pimientos del padrón has helped.

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