Ode to mathematics

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(Or What Years Of Math Can Do To Your Brain)
by: Marian Vickers

Mathematics ---- ( for better or worse )

Is chronicled throughout this verse.

It doesn’t much matter

What’s first or what’s latter

So long as it’s not in reverse.

With Euclid there’s nothing to rhyme.

His “Elements” took him some time.

His Geometry ruled

But he wasn’t fooled

He could always find one larger prime!

Pythagoreans (any who dared)

Were cultists…no secrets were shared.

They couldn’t eat beans,

With sex they were fiends,

And still found the hypotenuse squared.

A mathematician who’s ranked very high

Is Archimedes – ( He loved radii ).

His discovery’s based

On weight that’s displaced.

He wanted his piece of the .

The Romans were clumsy, I fear.

Their numbers caused many a jeer.

They’d sing on the buses

Midst boos, leers and cusses

XCIX bottles of beer!

Fermat’s “numbers” were grandly described

As circles with n-gons inscribed.

His famous “Last Theorem”

Caused many to fear him

But to publish he couldn’t be bribed.

Gauss was a strange thinking guy.

In plane geometry ( No one knew why )

His thoughts were complex

Imaginary, I guess.

All those in favour, say “ i ” !

Napier was of Scottish descent

And on logarithms much time he spent.

“Descriptio” was written

(With the Church he was smitten )

And he gave up his tables for lent!

Zeno showed us with his paradox

That a contradiction is something that rocks.

If Achilles and turtle

Jump just one more hurdle

They both will be infinite jocks!

The Muslims grew decidedly bored

With Ptolemy’s use of a chord.

And though it was fine

Their thoughts so divine

Were sines that could not be ignored.

Descartes became famous because

Of Geometry ( and all that it does )

His coordinates reign

On everyone’s plane

He thought and therefore he was!!

Leibniz with all of his nerve

Sought Calculus with plenty of verve

The was little

But helped solve the riddle

Of area under a curve.

Now Euler’s my favourite Math hero.

(He fiddled as grandly as Nero).

After playing around

He eventually found

e i + 1 = 0 !

Galois – bored with the plain quadradical

Knew you can’t solve a quintic by radical

Republican belief

Caused him serious grief

And put him on permanent sabbatical!

Though infinity caused most to be leery,

Georg Cantor ( who founded set theory )

Removed each middle third

( Most thought this absurd )

To count them would leave you quite weary!

Les theories de Julia et Fatou

Ne semblaient pas possibles du tout.

Etranges, elles etaient

Et folles elles semblaient,

Mais maintenant on les voit partout.

When in a complete metric space,

Cauchy found ( with a sequence in place )

Conditions to see

If convergence will be

When a positive ’s the case.

Now in last but not least spot-You’ve guessed!!

Bolzano and Weierstrass are blessed.

If they only knew

About “YOU KNOW WHO ”.

How could anyone be so obsessed ??
My creative ties now I must sever

In this seemingly endless endeavour.

Mathematics still grows

And God only knows

I could write these from now till forever.

John Holbrook, my learned professor

Please don’t make me be the aggressor

‘Cause soon you’ll advise me

With grades don’t surprise me

Or I might have to find your successor !



A History Of Mathematics, by Carl B. Boyer, 1968, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
The Story of Mathematics, by Lloyd Motz & Jefferson Hone Weaver, 1993,

Avon Books, New York

Introducing Mathematics, by Ziauddin Sardar, Jerry Ravetz and Borin Van

Loon, 1999, Totem Books, New York

Collins Dictionary Of Mathematics, by E.J. Borowski & J.M. Borwein, 1989

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