Infinite Knowledge

/ Writing / Letters /

Just wrote bk (& family), theMarcus:

another word, two more words, on BBC math:

In the last chapter of The Story of Maths Marcus du Sautoy talks about the mathematicians who stepped into infinity, and he gives a strong rhetorical statement from one of them, David Hilbert, buying faith in human cognition:

We must know, we will know.

but along the say we arrive at Godel, who said We don’t know and we can’t know.

dandy: I’ve always been a Godelian, taught by the Hilbertians, long before I ever heard of any of them.

anyway, at the end of the BBC series, Marcus looks in the camera and repeats the positive faith statement: We must know, we will know.

I of course am reminded of Bucky Fuller’s story about the army deciding it wanted to subsidize genius. the conventional wisdom said give millions to MIT. They interviews Novel prize winners. the common thread seemed to be Genius X went to a small libert arts college, say Hamilton, and his Freshman English prof said blah blah, and Genius X, ten years later, invented the “transistor”.
So, did the army give millions to English instructors at Hamilton? No, they gave millions to MIT.
Buddy said, The refused to learn what they had learned!!!

But, I promised two things. Thing #2: the Maths thing uses Dr. Who‘s music!

An earlier email had mentioned the Story of Maths show. But these are subjects I’ve been talking to bk about all his life: half a century.
Posting the email I correct some small amount of the technical “style”: italics, etc.

I’ve silently corrected attributions and quotes above.

PS I got wrapped up in infinities in the seventh grade, thank you, Mr. Bell. I got turned off all over math teachers in the ninth grade, no idea or interest in her name: government coerced evil.

PPS At Princeton Einstein was Godel’s best friend. How could that have been? Einstein was one of the dyed in the wool optimists: expected the universe to make sense. Just realized: all this stuff predates the absurdists: Beckett, etc. And Douglas Adams.

PPPS bk introduced me to Douglas Adams, also BBC, and to Dr. Who! ditto.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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