So narrowly educated

In a tribute to the mathematician Israel Moiseevich Gelfand (Notices of the AMS, vol. 60, no. 2, p. 162), Dusa McDuff recalls meeting Gelfand in Moscow.

Then [Gelfand] gave me his recent paper on Gelfand-Fuchs cohomology to read. It was titled “The cohomology of the Lie algebra of vector fields on a manifold”, but I had been so narrowly educated that I didn’t know what cohomology was, what a Lie algebra was, what a vector field was, or what a manifold was.

I know one definition of a vector field, but it’s probably not the same as the one in the paper mentioned. Right now I also don’t know the definitions of the other three terms.

The Universe in a Handkerchief

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I recently bought a copy of Martin Gardner’s The Universe in a Handkerchief (New York: Copernicus, 1996). (In a future blog post, I’ll describe in more detail how I bought it.) The book’s subtitle is “Lewis Carroll’s Mathematical Recreations, Games, Puzzles, and Word Plays.” I present here some items in the book that I found very interesting. Continue reading “The Universe in a Handkerchief”