Sunday, August 29, 2010


JSH: Not a bad place to be

Often in arguments with Usenet posters on math newsgroups I've seen an attitude like I should be looking to be celebrated, seek consensus at any cost, or just be NICER, where I should think of group impact, how other people feel, and believe that I NEED something from them, like approval, which surprised me.

After all, the public perception I'd think of math people would be none of the above, pursuit of truth above all else, and a disdain for social approval with a contempt for the idea of accepting ideas because someone tells you they're good.

As in mathematics, who needs someone to tell you what is correct?

In mathematics, unlike in most areas of human endeavor there is mathematical proof!

And I got to define it.

I am in an incredible position at this point. And I talk about being able to search for my definition of mathematical proof on the web, where posters replying seem to think, still, that I want something from them!!! I'm just still amazed about it, in shock to some extent, and yes, awe.

Today I can search across number theory on various topics from primes to Diophantine equations and get my ideas reflected back at me.

That is not a bad place to be.

Our new tool of advancement, the hot thing of today, the Internet, reflects my research back at me. My ideas reflected back to me by the mirror of the greatest technologies of human advancement.

To the extent that I am still subject to ridicule from this modern mathematical community, I think you learn more about them than about me, about how they work, what is important to them, what they know.

And I know they don't know this feeling. Yes, I do stand on the shoulders of giants, as Sir Isaac said of himself, but I'm luckier, because I can see so much further than any others before could ever have imagined because I live in the world they helped create, which is so much greater than I'm sure they ever imagined.

Those who dream to learn, who love the excitement and daring of a great adventure we did not choose for ourselves—we were born into it—cherish the opportunity to learn about it. To find a way. To forge new paths.

To be the ones who themselves, like those before us, help make a better distant future which should hopefully be as unimaginably better as ours was—as if not me, or you? Who?

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