Math is beauty; beauty is art

Tom Fox Gives a presentation at the SPACE Conference

By Dahlia Belinsky and Brian Lapuz

Tom Fox, a recipient of the teacher of the year award, kicked off the Science Participating in Arts and Culture (SPACE) talk series, on the evening of Sept. 29, entitled “Eureka Moments in Math (or what kind of nut likes mathematics?)”

“[The seminar was an opportunity] to break out of the classroom,” Fox said. “You don’t have a strict syllabus to follow and to go into the more philosophical side of mathematics that most students never get to see.”

At least 50 people attended the event held in the 5B.13 boardroom, where students, teachers and outsiders alike came to listen to Fox speak about mathematics. Some people also sat on the floor.

“As usual, I haven’t prepared anything and I’m just gonna wing it,” Fox said, early in his talk. “What good is this [mathematics]? Nothing! It’s beautiful.”

To explain his view, Fox drew parallels from evolution to explain mathematics and its development, while keeping the attendees entertained by making some humorous comments.

“God invented Newton who invented calculus to torture all you students,” Fox said.

While attempting to portray the organic development of mathematics, he also kept cussing during his presentation and commented on how the younger members of the audience were “cramping his style.”

A highlight of the presentation was when Fox shared an anecdote about the time he drank a bottle of scotch while watching Clint Eastwood movies until 4:30 a.m.

He also spent a fair amount of time complaining about the use of mathematics by engineers. “God help us. Engineers. Boring!” Fox said.

According to students, Fox gave an interesting and insightful SPACE talk, despite the topic at hand. “I could appreciate what he was saying,” Jaclyn Caing, a third semester Psychology student, said. “It was really interesting, but I don’t like math.”

For Jordan Queineville, a third semester Health Science student, Fox’s presentation bridged math with other subjects. “I’m in Health Science and it unified everything with science and literature,” Queineville said. “He was talking about math, but I could relate it to anything.”

Pleased with the turnout for the SPACE events thus far, Andrew Katz, English teacher and a SPACE coordinator, commented on Fox’s understanding of math. “He [Fox] has a passion for math beyond formulas,” Katz said. “He saw it as something beautiful, he also saw the big picture about math and why people would want to study it.”

Fox also spoke about a book titled Journeys Through Geniuses, written on the topic of math. “There are eight Gods of mathematics,” Fox said. “And I thought it gave a false view of math. I don’t think you have to be a big genius to do math or else, what the fuck am I doing?”

SPACE will be holding another event in late Oct. focusing on Archeology and another in late Nov. at the Warren G. Flowers gallery showcasing written, visual, sculpted works and anything that relates in any way to Eureka Moments that students would like to display.

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