Posted by: rdkpickle | 06.21.2012

up against the infinite

Summer for me means: road trips, freckles, mosquito bites, the sound of crickets, the smell of grass, cutoff jean shorts, family, friends, and music.

I’m working at Vanderbilt again this summer, but only for 2 weeks (for the math and music class.) I drove down to Nashville on Saturday and hit the ground running – four days down already. We have learned about some mathematical elements of music (complex meter, metric modulation, cross rhythms… to name a few), explored interval pitch classes and best normal order, discussed frequency of pitches and equal temperament, delved into a bit of mathematical set theory, put John Cage on trial for “crimes against music,” and had some fun with postmodern music. It’s a blast to work with Dawson and I tend to spend the entire day with my brain in high gear – whirring through new ideas with barely enough time to process them all; finding myself longing for the time I never seem to have to deepen my understanding of the fields that I love.

To that end, I decided a few months ago that for the rest of the summer following my time at VSA, I would allow myself that time to be selfish – time to explore, time to learn. Time to let my mind wander and see what interesting mathematical discoveries I end up making. I have a bit of a game plan for things I want to delve into, read, and study, but it’s still a work in progress. (And the list gets longer every day – even yesterday an old problem in class sparked an entirely new idea that led to an awesome, and interesting connection that I’m still exploring.)

Here are a few things on my list:

Paul Erdos says:

“Mathematics is the only infinite human activity.”

“It will be millions of years before we’ll have any understanding and even then it won’t be a complete understanding, because we’re up against the infinite.”

There is so much that I don’t know that I am hungry to learn.



  1. It’s awesome that you are so passionate about your subject! I admire your drive and curiosity.

  2. You ponder awesome stuff.

  3. Will you please post about progress/results? I’d like to learn a little through you.

  4. Ditto for Dave’s comment. Also, I read both the Strogatz and Hoffman book and both come highly recommended.

    • Sure, to both of you! Although I’m still not exactly sure how this will develop, and how postable any insights will be. But at the least I’ll take pictures of the math art!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: