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Additional info for Mathematics Today Twelve Informal Essays
SULLIVAN : Isolation and Frustration The nearly universal recognition that mathematics is a powerful scientific tool might be thought very gratifying to mathematicians. In fact, the identification with science is more often a source of frustration, because it is essentially the only thing most people know about their subject. Listen to the anguish with which Halmos says, "It saddens me that educated people don't even know that my subject exists. " It is useless to debate whether this gap between mathematicians and the rest of the world is due to some deep-seated fear of mathematics or to the failure of more than a very few mathematicians to make the effort to communicate something of what is going on in their subject to a broader audience.
7 . 11. (The dot indicates multiplication; thus for "3 . ") For more examples involving prime numbers and their relation to other numbers, see the box on page 47. Despite the simplicity of their definition, surprisingly little is known about prime numbers. We know that they are basic to modem arithmetic and algebra. But of the laws governing their distribution, we know very little. This is not due to neglect: prime number theory has attracted the attention of some of the best mathematicians of modem times.
When you meet them, you are able to talk about mathematics very easily, to communicate across these boundaries, and also across the age barriers. In what other profession can you see a 20-year-old kid lecturing at the Allen L. Hammond 31 blackboard and old venerable people sitting there and taking notes. This is a wonderful thing. SULLIV AN: There are only risks and hazards if you think that the objective is to make great discoveries in your own name. If you just want to wander out in mathematics and manipulate it, eat it, feel it, try to understand it, communicate it and so on, there's a tremendous amount to do that is enjoyable.