A Tshirt and a Conference, and you’ve got Maths!

July 19, 2011

A wonderful article from the ‘Scientific American’ blog  /  Degrees of Freedom.

While full of pertinent examples of the usefulness of math and mathematicians, this paragraph was a hoot:

“On the other hand, mathematicians are cheap. They just need a small office, some chalk, a computer and, once in a while, a ticket to a conference. They make you smile by wearing nerdy T-shirts. They are good to have around on university campuses in case you are a scientist who happens to have calculus (or Riemannian geometry) questions. Oh, and they teach math to students. Lots of students.”

It reminded me, of course, of the joke about philosophers and mathematicians – a mathematician needs pencil, paper, and a rubbish bin; but the philosopher doesn’t even need the bin.

Conferences are great – that’s where the real cross-pollination of ideas can begin. People from all sorts of specializations getting mellow in the bar, and talking about things – and ideas happen.

Mathematicians may be too abstract for most people to understand, but they know the value of a conference.


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