Well, Roy Hargrove was as good as I recall from the last time I saw him, in one of my favourite jazz clubs, the Village Vanguard in New York. In view of other live small club music events I’ve been to in LA, I admit that I was expecting a lackadaiscal and unappreciative audience, probably talking while the musicians dared to interrupt their dinner, and because it was after 10:00pm, hardly any audience for a 10:30pm start of the set.
I was wrong, I am happy to report. I readily revise my earlier conclusions about live jazz in LA by quite a bit. For a moment there, I could well have been in any of a number of good New York Jazz clubs. The venue itself, the Catalina Bar and Grill, was very good indeed (even though they managed to annoy me at the start by (1) only having valet parking, which I avoid, and (2) giving directions that assume that you will be driving, and so only telling you to enter the club through the back via the parking garage, rather than giving you the option to just walk through the lobby at the front. Sigh.) and was cozy and inviting, and apparopriately low-lit. The club was not completely full, but decently so, and the bulk of the audience clearly knew and understood jazz, not just applauding the apparently “difficult bits” (as audiences so often do), but with several showing their appreciation of a well chosen phrase, or a humourous or evocative musical reference of some sort, within a larger musical line. And sure, the two-drink minimum, or option to instead order food from the overpriced menu is a clear, cynical money-spinner, but it is no worse than in several other clubs in other cities, so I was only routinely perturbed by this, and for a short time.
Roy Hargrove and his band blew away any such minor concerns. I asked for (and got) Continue reading ‘More Than A Hint Of The Old Days’
I have this problem: I don’t really have enough hours in each day. One of the symptoms of this problem is a huge pile of unread or partially read issues of the New Yorker. Sometimes I try to catch up. This catching up is incomplete, of course, and sometimes I miss articles of direct relevance to my field. Sometimes I miss them even when they are in an issue I skimmed through, promising to read later more thoroughly. This time, I missed the August 28th article called “Manifold Destiny” (by Sylvia Nasar and David Gruber), about the quest of some mathematicians to understand the Poincare conjecture. The subtitle of the article in the table of contents is “Who really solved the Poincare conjecture?”. The story starts out with a report on a talk at the Strings 2006 conference in Beijing.
[Update: After reading the below, do read this post about the letter (apparently from Yau's lawyer) about the issue. His being painted in the role of villain may have been rather over the top, and the writers may have not behaved very well at all... so the word "masterpiece" I used below may well be totally wrong. I'm so glad that I wrote the cautionary remarks at the end now.]
As a piece of writing for the non-mathematician’s consumption, it is another New Yorker masterpiece. It is of course several pages long, and so there’s plenty of meat Continue reading ‘Epic Struggles in Mathematics’
One of my hobbies for a while when I was a young ‘un was origami. It was swiftly overtaken by other arts and crafts, and these were hobbies long before I started taking apart cameras and radios, and the like, to see how they worked, and collecting pondwater and pressing leaves and….
In retrospect, I think it might be obvious that (obstacles aside) I had a good chance of becoming a theoretical physicist. A lot of those arts and crafts hobbies were all about intricate patterns of one sort or another. I loved that stuff, although I did not think of it as mathematics… just a nice pattern. And I was drawn to playing with and creating those patterns. Some of them are amazing, as you know from staring at whatever your mum or grandmother is working on right now. Or perhaps you. I’ll tell you about more of that some other time. Let’s get back to origami. I stumbled upon (via NPR) an excellent website, that of Robert J. Lang. It is quite wonderful. The site tells you about Lang’s work, and shows you a ton of it. But the best thing of all is that it tells you about the Art, Science and Mathematics of it all together. The engineering applications of origami are growing as well. These include developing the best way of folding airbags for ready deployment, and the problem of how to fold up a giant array of solar panels on a spacecraft so that they can be successfully unfolded and put into use once the craft gets into space.
Imagine also the problem in a scientific context of how to design arrays of mirrors with Continue reading ‘The Science, Art, and Mathematics of Origami’