How Math Explains the World

This Just Proves I’m a Nerd

I didn’t bring this book home, the Husband did, but it had a really cool cover so I picked it up. And I meandered through the first several chapters because anything that explains my husband’s brain to me is frequently of interest.

And after those first few chapters (during which I learned that Pythagoras was so aware of the import of his formulation of the Pythagorean Theorem that he ordered 100 oxen barbequed, super cool!) I suddenly stumbled on a gem: a chapter giving the foundations of physics.

EVERY time someone asks the question, “Is light a particle or a wave?” I experience a rush of ecstasy.

“Yes!” I shout, then force myself to stillness so that I can fully appreciate the story of the double-slit electron experiment. It’s like opening the same Christmas present every year; I already know what’s inside, I’m thrilled to be getting it again, and I can’t wait to play with my quantum erasers and half-alive, half-dead cats. The Copenhagen interpretation is my launch point into the greatest joys of the universe.

For me, physics is like a hot tub in the middle of a giant parking lot full of gravel. Mathematics is the gravel.

For me, physics is like a hot tub in the middle of a giant parking lot full of gravel. Mathematics is the gravel. I am forced to walk barefoot over all that wretched, sharp gravel before I can sink gratefully into the steaming warmth of physics, both quantum and planetary.

My husband, on the other hand, is a born mathematician. For him, the gravel is actually the glowing, thousand-hued crystals of an enormous multi-dimensional puzzle; one he would happily spend the rest of his life working to solve. The hot tub he barely notices as he gleefully sorts crystals into organized piles, stacks, and towers.

Sigh. I guess what I meant to say is that we’re both nerds.

, , , , , , , ,

One Response to This Just Proves I’m a Nerd

  1. Alicia Hemphill November 17, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    YES!!!! Me, too!!!! How many !!!!! can I put into a sentence? Going upstairs to find Who’s Afraid of Schrodinger’s Cat? Have you read it? Maybe we could discuss over COFFEE this week? Stalk, stalk, stalk…

Leave a Reply