3/14 at 1:59AM
I once memorized pi to 100 decimal places to prove that I could. I used to repeat it while walking my dogs when I lived in Atlanta. It took me no time to forget most of it!
I have always been fascinated by geometry, much more so than math itself which I have always found difficult. Geometry, on the other hand, seems so intuitive to me, probably because it’s very visual. Trigonometry, where geometry and math more or less intersect, took a while but has also become very intuitive to me.
I remember watching Dad work on the TV when we were young. He had an instrument called an Oscilloscope. He taught me how to use it by showing me a sine wave. It was the coolest thing this little dude had experienced so far!
It all came together for me when I saw something like this for the first time. Sinusoidal motion. Over time I could start to see it everywhere. In graduate school and for the first ten years or so of my professional life I became a subject matter expert on it with my work at Boeing and Hewlett-Packard.
As I got older I developed a fascination with numbers. There is nothing more fascinating than the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. A number that goes on forever and never falls into a repeating pattern. A number that you can literally see when the sun rises every morning or watching the orbit of the moon over a period of time. Watching the waves break at the beach or a bird flap its wings. Nothing but a moving circle.
Things really got interesting when I learned about Monsieur Fourier. He was an 18th-century French mathematician who developed a magic trick called a Fourier transform. This trick allows you to essentially create any arbitrary waveform (for example your favorite song) from a summation of a whole bunch of these beautiful sinusoids. Later some really smart people figured out how to do this very quickly with machines like the Fourier Analyzer I worked with in my early career. There was something almost Existential about it. At one point I thought it might be the hand of some creator. Now I think it’s more the nature of the universe.
Whatever it is, it’s truly beautiful and very, very cosmic 🤩.