Thursday, 21 January 2010

Beautiful equations

Last Tuesday I went to a lecture on mathematics.

I may have mentioned before that among many things I like about Cambridge are all these lectures. At Homerton, there is a lecture every week, by one of the Fellows, on a level accessible for other Fellows.

When I was nine and wanted to be an astronomer, my mother told me that I was lousy in maths and so could forget it. I was doubtless lousy in maths, and still am (I cannot do a simple sum - three cheers for calculators when I have to pay bills). But I have always been fascinated by pure mathematics that has nothing to do with sums and calculations, but is just an exercise of thought. A game of glass beads, for its own sake. Cannot be applied. Cannot be used for anything practical. There is no social importance in knowing how many primes there are in the first billion. But it is sublime. I wish there was something like this in my field. Maybe there is. I just need to think of it. I have a weird feeling that a popular lecture at Homerton this week has changed my life.

No comments: