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National Amateur Press Association
Monthly Bundle Sample, Boxwooder 357, p.1
The Boxwooder 354, January 1999

"Exposition, criticism, appreciation is work for second-class minds."

G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Aplogy

Every since I can remember I have read almost as easily and constantly as I breathe. A large portion of what I read can only be described as trash — whodunits, science fiction, indifferent novels. Formerly I almost never quit a book before finishing it no matter how worthless it proved to be. However, beginning cataracts and general dissolution of age have lately been making sustained reading something of a chore. My first reaction was to quit any book that I found lacking, and my second was to limit the amount of trash books that I even started.

For the last couple of years I have been mainly reading books on cosmology, physics, and mathematics. Reading about mathematics and mathematicians has revived some regret that I did not continue in mathematics in school though it would likely have been disastrous.

Nearly sixty years ago I had just about decided that I wanted to be a mathematician. One day my physics teacher, William Wineland, asked me if I intended to major in physics. I told him I was inclined to choose mathematics. He said, "I doubt if you know what mathematics is. Physics is probably much more like what you think mathematics is. Physics deals with problems of mass, velocity, mechanics, gas dynamics, and all sorts of real problems requiring quite high-level math. Mathematicians just prove theorems about nothing useful or comprehensible. They consider useful math to be almost shameful and do not want to be associated with applications. Think about it a while and come and talk to me later."

 

    Last updated: 03/05/2000