Hankel on Diophantus

Diophantus of Alexandria was one of the last (c. 250 AD) great mathematicians of the Hellenistic period. He is often called the “father of algebra.” An entire branch of mathematics is named for him. It was in the margin of his book Arithmetica that Fermat penned his famous note. Today, while looking up some information on…

What shape are the golden arches?

Every day for lunch I eat salad (made with vegetables from our local farmers’ market or from our college’s organic farm) and homemade yogurt and granola. The only time I ever eat fast food is on long car trips. So why, I ask you, did the question “What shape are the golden arches?” pop into…

Auden: minus times minus equals plus, the reason for this we need not discuss

I stumbled upon this quote by W. H. Auden (from A Certain World: A Commonplace Book, 1970). Of course, the natural sciences are just as “humane” as letters. There are, however, two languages, the spoken verbal language of literature, and the written sign language of mathematics, which is the language of science. This puts the scientist…