Well, there’s a little secret that we mathematicians never tell anyone. That we have superhuman powers.
I can give you a hundred convincing reasons for that claim. There were reports that some mathematicians can spin a web, like Spiderman. Some mathematicians, the rumours say that they wear their underwear over their pants, just like Superman and Batman (thought the world just laughs at us saying we are being absent-minded)!
But power comes with responsibility. We need to expand our horizon, reading books, novels, newspapers, political commentaries… watching movies, listening to songs, and so on! We must know about everything around us, only then with our supervision, we will be able to figure out what’s happening, what will happen next, and see how we can use our superpower to stop it!
But that’s a bit of theatrics to tell them how we mathematicians can contribute to any field of study in the world.
In my opinion, our real superpower is to figure the pattern out of symmetric chaos in this world. We don’t just observe data, we derive information out of it. We write them down in our super-language, which we have mastered with years of practice, the language of mathematics. We share the super-knowledge we made with the world so that physicists, chemists and other scientists can make the world a better place.
This process of writing something real-world in the language of mathematics is called mathematical abstraction, about which I mentioned earlier. A mathematician named John Mason (whom I have quoted in one of my previous articles) called abstraction a heartbeat of mathematics. But somehow, in the rush to serve and please a crowd of 70 to 100 students packed in a class built for 40 to 50, we often forget its place in our classrooms.
This is what those students were doing. They were exploring their superhuman powers, though it’s already their final semester in PG. That was fuelled by the curiosity Neil spoke of – the curiosity to learn, the curiosity to earn the knowledge, gain wisdom.
Curiosity, when someone recognizes them to be capable of creating mathematics.