Saturday, March 14, 2015

Guess what day it is!?

I wasn't going to post anything about pi day today, because it's expected, and we make a big deal out of weird number milestones, also it's my day of after 2 hectic weekends. Apparently, there is another holiday today that seems to exist to stir controversy. Yes, we men need a day to celebrate what it means to be a man, damn it! For too long, holidays like Valentines, Women's Day, and Mother's Day force us to be civil to women, and they cast a shadow over Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day, Jefferson and Washington's birthdays along with President's day, those two holidays that celebrate the life and death of a famous religious man (Christmas and Easter), all the holidays that celebrate man's contribution to history. Also, the other holiday falls between Mardi Gras, which is known for large amounts of alcohol and sluts pretending to have something to do with religion, and St. Patrick's day, an excuse to drink until you black out pretending to be a celebration of Irish culture. As a man, I demand more holidays to make up for the three days in which women are the center of attention!

 Truth is, I don't have a girlfriend to celebrate with, so I might as well celebrate the lame math day for dorks and nerds. I could post a link to my own post about Sophie Germain Primes or maybe a link to Sofia Kovalevskaya's wikipedia page. Kovaleskaya is a bad ass as a woman and a mathematician, since she hung out with some of Russia's greatest philosophers at the time, and figured out a way to get educated, become the first female professor of mathematics in Russia AND Europe, and wrote a book on Nihilism along with her work in differential calculus. But that would be about women, though. Honestly, I feel Russians are largely unappreciated in their contribuitons to science in the last 100 years, so you should read about Vladimir Kovalevsky, Sophia's husband. Honestly, the information on him in English is slim to none and I think the only thing resembling a biography on him was written by Stephen Gould. It's a shame really. He only wrote one book on the evolution of horses, but it inspired further research into the field. Him and his brother were the earliest evolutionary biologists due to the fact that Vladimir had know Darwin personally. He even translated The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication and published it before the official English version. He did commit sucide when he wasted all of his wife's money on a failed business deal, but him and his brother helped Russian biologists. Sadly, the wikipedia article is short due to the fact there is little information in English about him, and most people don't represent the relationship between him and his wife properly. I want to write about the two of them so badly.

Have you ever read I Ching? It has been a pretty influential work in mathematics, including inspiring Gottfried Leibniz and his version of Calculus. Here's a page on the combinatorics of I ching.

Representing Argentina is my man, Jorge Luis Borges. He was a short story writer whose interest in mathematics lead him to writing stories like The Aleph and The Library of Babel. His stuff still seems to be under copywrite, and I am a fine upstanding citizen who would never of think of doing anything like suggesting a Google search for "Jorge Luis Borges works download".

You know who was cool? Srinivasa Ramanujan. He's not talked about much outside of mathematics and science, partly due to having a name that Americans have a hard time saying. But he had no formal education, and he taught himself math by reading then corresponding with the big mathematicians of the time. Indian mathematicians in general are very important, like Brahmagupta who introduced the concept of zero, or any of these other guys.

Women have been doing some good work in math. The Math Counts meetup, the group I help with in Philadelphia, just read a book about Infinity written by Lillian Lieber. It's written in a free form verse style. Of course, there is the famous Marie Curie, who was physicist and chemist which are math heavy sciences. Maybe you should check out Hypatia, a Greek female mathematician.

You know what pi day is about? Math and science, a long standing tradition that has brought together people and thinkers from all sorts of cultures and genders. We need more holidays like that. You know what the other holiday is about? A bunch of asshats who want to be noticed for a day and who think they are being edgy with this type of humor. I hope I gave you some good reading material for the rest of the night.

If you're coming from the A to Z website, welcome! I don't post as much as I should, but maybe if you check me out on facebook and twitter I'll get the inspiration to start maintaining those more.

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