Thursday, August 22, 2013

Minimally gilded Hodge star

Not sure how, I got into reading The Fermata by Nicholson Baker. It's all about sex, but somewhere in the middle of the book the following formula appears, allegedly from a paper called Minimally Gilded Hodge Star Operators and Quasi-Ordinary Handlebodies Within a Localizable 4-Manifold Whitney Invariants:

It is all quite meaningless, which, in itself, makes perfect sense. The narrator uses this formula as a special magic which helps to undress women. Real mathematics is useless for this purpose, to say the least, as many a mathematician must have surely observed.

There is also an example of the oppоsite situation in the book Веселая семейка by Nikolai Nosov. It is a children's book about two kids who decide to build an incubator. One of them is the type of a person who wants everything to serve a purpose; for instance, he buys a book on higher mathematics with a ridiculous name, arguing that it must be extremely useful. He can't understand a word, of course.

I read Веселая семейка at the age of six and laughed at the hapless hero. But years later (not too many years, as I understand now), while at the university, I was dumbstruck when, for some reason, the name of that mathematics book came to my mind. It was called Inverse Trigonometric Functions and Chebychev Polynomials. This is a beautiful theory, one of my favourite parts of the mathematics course.

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