National Amateur Press Association
Monthly Bundle Sample, Boxwooder 357, p.1
"Exposition, criticism, appreciation is work for secondclass 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 highlevel 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."
