Imagine Math 2. Between Culture and Mathematics

Author(s): 
Michele Emmer (ed.)
Publisher: 
Springer Verlag
Year: 
2013
ISBN: 
978-88-470-2888-3 (hbk)
Price (tentative): 
59,99 € (net)
Short description: 

This is a sequel to the first volume of Imagine Math and it contains again a collection of papers that make a connection between mathematics and cultural activities like music, poetry, literature, film, and/or scientific disciplines like philosophy, sociology, biology, polemology, myrmecology, etc.

URL for publisher, author, or book: 
www.springer.com/mathematics/book/978-88-470-2888-3
MSC main category: 
00 General
MSC category: 
00A99
Other MSC categories: 
00A65; 00A66; 00A67
Review: 

Like the previous volume Imagine Math and the parallel series of Mathematics and Culture, (see e.g. vol I and vol VI) we again find here a collection of 26 very diverse essays, often translated from Italian, that deal with the mathematical aspects of arts, culture and scientific applications. The volumes in both series are edited by M. Emmer, but whereas the Mathematics and Culture provides translations of the Italian proceedings of recurrent conferences on the topic, this series is not directly connected to a conference. Since there are too many contributions to review each paper in detail here, I just a few examples below.

There is mathematics, poetry and literature which take up about a quarter of the book. Some examples: a paper by V. Della Mea who wrote a collection of poems L'Infanzia di Gödel (Gödel's childhood) and one by Ph. Schlogt who wrote a novel The wild numbers about a mathematician who proved some great theorem about a crazy fictitious sequence of numbers. That sequence got an entry in the on-line encyclopedia of integer sequences afterwards. Many classics from world literature appear in a survey analysing the attitude of the authors towards mathematics (or science). The contribution by C. Ambrosini deals with two operas he wrote (Big bang circus and Il killer di parole) in which the libretto, especially in the latter, deals with numbers, language and mathematics.

Mathematics and film is also a subject that shows up in all volumes of these series. Many types of links are possible. It can be a biographical film of some mathematician, or a mathematical element can play an essential dramatic role,
or structural elements may be defined by mathematical procedures, or geometric elements may be used as in an abstract painting using light as a paint, etc. Of course there are also instructive movies like Flatland or Donald in Mathmagic Land or the more formal computer generated Dimensions. This volume has a paper by E. Frenkel about his erotic short film Rites of love and math, a remake of the Japanese cult classic Rites of love and death (Y. Mishima, 1966) in which two lovers commit suicide. The harakiri at the end in the original is replaced by the tattooing of a math formula on the belly of the woman in the remake. Arithmétique is a short animation video by G. Munari and D. Rovazzani

Painting, music and math are also mixed in the papers by the musician D. Amodio and the engineer C. de Fabritiis. They `mapped' the well known painting Summertime 9A by J. Pollock into a piece of music, which they called Jacksontime.

The homage to Alan Turing contains a short biography and the script of the stage play Alan Turing and the poisoned apple by M.Vicenzi. More performance art, relating the real and the virtual is described in the paper by A. Mondot on the company Adrien M / Claire B that he has set up together with C. Bardainne.

Somewhat more technical are contributions on dynamical systems and morphology, weather prediction, on modeling the social behaviour of ant colonies and more generally modelling swarms, and cellular automata for the game of life.

All this and much more can be found in here. Mathematics is everywhere as this book illustrates and yet hardly a formula to be found in it. Good reads for all math lovers with a broad and open mind.

Reviewer: 
A. Bultheel
Affiliation: 
KU Leuven

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