Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Kac

Quote of the Day

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There surely must be more cogent reasons than being merely amusing for this or that system to deserve investigation and study. For one, there are aesthetic reasons, and here I am reminded of something Balthasar van der Pol, a great Dutch scientist and engineer who was also a fine musician, remarked to me about the music of Bach. “It is great,” he said, “because it is inevitable and yet surprising.” I have often thought about this lovely epigram in connection with mathematics and am convinced that, with some caution, it is applicable. The inevitability is, in many cases, provided by logic alone, but the element of surprise must come from an insight outside the rigid confines of logic.

Mark Kac, Enigmas of Chance

Written by nevalalee

June 15, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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Written by nevalalee

October 3, 2013 at 7:30 am

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Feynman the Magician

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There are two kinds of geniuses, the “ordinary” and the “magicians.” An ordinary genius is a fellow that you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what they have done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it. It is different with the magicians. They are, to use mathematical jargon, in the orthogonal complement of where we are and the working of their minds is for all intents and purposes incomprehensible. Even after we understand what they have done, the process by which they have done it is completely dark. They seldom, if ever, have students because they cannot be emulated and it must be terribly frustrating for a brilliant young mind to cope with the mysterious ways in which the magician’s mind works. Richard Feynman is a magician of the highest caliber.

Mark Kac, quoted by James Gleick in Genius

Written by nevalalee

July 29, 2012 at 9:50 am

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