Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unreasonable effectiveness, revisited

An interesting take on the 'unreasonable effectiveness' of mathematics is formulated by Michael Barr in his book review that appeared in the last issue (August/September) of The American Mathematical Monthly, and involves the 'ubiquitous' presence of complex numbers in quantum mechanics:
Classical physics was formulated entirely with real numbers. Could quantum mechanics have even been formulated without complex numbers? What could it possibly look like? Isn’t the fact that complex numbers were created long before quantum mechanics required it, another example of the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics?
(The Outer Limits of Reason. Noson Yanofsky. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2013 - Reviewed by Michael Barr, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 121, No. 7 (August–September), pp. 658-660)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Give and take - Brasil loses a FIFA world Cup, but wins a Fields medal!

A Brazilian Wunderkind Who Calms Chaos - Artur Avila’s solutions to ubiquitous problems in chaos theory have earned him Brazil’s first Fields Medal. (Thomas Lin and Erica Klarreich - August 12, 2014)
Artur Avila wins the Fields medal 2014 "for his profound contributions to dynamical systems theory have changed the face of the field, using the powerful idea of renormalization as a unifying principle" (see http://www.icm2014.org/en/awards/prizes/f1 )

Maryam Mirzakhani - first woman to be awarded the Fields Medal - ICM 2014 Seoul

Maryam Mirzakhani - Iranian mathematician, full Professor of Mathematics at Stanford, first woman to be awarded the Fields Medal, at The International Congress of Mathematicians 2014 (Seoul, August 13-21)
"for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces" - see presentation and video @  http://www.icm2014.org/en/awards/prizes/f4