"A Propos De Bottes"—John Derbyshire On Math
August 30, 2012, 04:31 PM
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VDARE.com is a National Question website, I know.  However, since at present I have no other outlet for brief random bloggings, the proprietors of VDARE.com have generously given me permission to make occasional postings here on utterly unrelated topics.

On math, for example.  I am currently reading with much pleasure and instruction V.I. Arnold`s Huygens & Barrow, Newton & Hooke, which was gifted to me by a kind friend in Florida.  

I especially liked Endnote 17 in the book.  I commend it to the attention of any politician who needs to speak for 15 minutes without saying anything material.  Which is to say, any politician at all.

For modern mathematicians it is generally difficult to read their predecessors, who wrote: "Bob washed his hands" where they should simply have said: "There is a t1 < 0 such that the image Bob(t1) of the point t1 under the natural mapping t ?> Bob(t) belongs to the set of people having dirty hands and a t2 of the half-open interval (t1,0] such that the image of the point t2 under the same mapping belongs to the complement of the set concerned when the point t1 is considered."

Arnold (1937-2010) was a Russian mathematician of tremendous energy and wide influence.  There is a mathematical biography here. (It includes some caustic remarks by Arnold on mathematical education in the U.S.A.) The March 2012 "Notices of the American Mathematical Society" ran a long (pp. 378 to 399) tribute to him