There’s no sport in blowing minds anymore

August 19, 2010

You can use math to blow people’s mind so easily and so casually that it almost feels unfair. I had the pleasure of doing so tonight at a volunteer orientation meeting at the Puget Sound Community School, a pretty awesome Seattle school in the tradition of the Sudbury Valley School (see my earlier post). I’ve been chatting with them about coming in some Friday and teaching some cool math to the students there.

PSCS Teacher: What are you thinking of doing?

Me: I was thinking of “Which infinity is bigger?” For example, there are an infinite number of square numbers, 1, 4, 9, 16, and so on. But they fit inside the whole numbers. So does that mean there are more whole numbers than square numbers? Is that infinity bigger?

Other Volunteer, listening in: You just blew my mind.

It’s becoming a crutch. Maybe I should practice blowing people’s minds with my own ideas for a while, instead of raiding the wealth of little-known, bewilderingly gorgeous reality benders that mathematics provides. It’s so much harder to do it that way, though.

On that note, I found this on another tumblr blog
(though it was already reblogged, so I can’t credit the original source):

“Is it normal to burst into hysterical tears multiple times a day over how utterly, indescribably, ethereally, inconceivably beautiful mathematics is?”

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