(Roughly) Daily

“It is still an unending source of surprise for me how a few scribbles on a blackboard or on a piece of paper can change the course of human affairs”*…

 

blackboard

 

For the last year, Jessica Wynne, a photographer and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, has been photographing mathematicians’ blackboards, finding art in the swirling gangs of symbols sketched in the heat of imagination, argument and speculation. “Do Not Erase,” a collection of these images, will be published by Princeton University Press in the fall of 2020…

This is what thought looks like.

Ideas, and ideas about ideas. Suppositions and suspicions about relationships among abstract notions — shape, number, geometry, space — emerging through a fog of chalk dust, preferably of the silky Hagoromo chalk, originally from Japan, now made in South Korea.

In these diagrams, mysteries are being born and solved…

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More (and larger) examples from this photo survey of the blackboards of mathematicians at “Where Theory Meets Chalk, Dust Flies.”

* Stanislaw Ulam

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As we scribble “do not erase,” we might spare a thought for Herbert Aaron Hauptman; he died on this date in 2011.  A mathematician, he pioneered and developed a mathematical method that has changed the whole field of chemistry and opened a new era in research in determination of molecular structures of crystallized materials.  Today, Hauptman’s “direct methods,” which he continued to improve and refine, are routinely used to solve complicated structures… work for which he shared the the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

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Written by LW

October 24, 2019 at 1:01 am

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