Banner
    The Quote Of The Week - G.H.Hardy, Second-Rate Minds
    By Tommaso Dorigo | April 18th 2013 05:22 AM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

    View Tommaso's Profile
    "It is a melancholy experience for a professional mathematician to find himself writing about mathematics. The function of a mathematician is to do something, to prove new theorems, to add to mathematics, and not to talk about what he or other mathematicians have done. Statesmen despise publicists, painters despise art-critics, and physiologists, physicists, or mathematicians have usually similar feelings: there is no scorn more profound, or on the whole more justifiable, than that of the men who make for the men who explain. Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds."

    G.H.Hardy, A Mathematicians' Apology (1940), available here

    Comments

    Bullshit. Mathematics and science are a community enterprise - it is a culture, a collective effort. The explainers play a vital role in this ecosystem.

    G.H. Hardy may have been a great mathematician, but his philosophy is unsound.

    It is a melancholy experience for a professional mathematician to find himself writing about mathematics.
    Obviously, neither mathematicians nor scientists would get very far if they spent too much time writing. But it's not a melancholy experience by any stretch, and communication is a vital part of the whole process.

    I think he wrote that because he only turned to writing later in his life when he felt burnt out as a mathematician.

    dorigo
    Yes, yes - the importance of discussion, of communicating, of interacting, the need for popularization of science. I subscribe and conform to all of that. And yet... The guy said something deep about my profession, which is still valid today.

    Cheers,
    T.