By C. Pickover
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About fifty models were made. The Matrix. What number is on Agent Smith’s license plate in the movie The Matrix Reloaded? Why? ) At the movies. What famous book and movie title contains a number that is greater than 18,000 and less then 38,000? ) The mathematical life. “The mathematician lives long and lives young; the wings of the soul do not early drop off, nor do its 36 A Passion for Mathematics pores become clogged with the earthly particles blown from the dusty highways of vulgar life” (James Joseph Sylvester, 1814–1897, a professor of mathematics at Johns Hopkins University, 1869 address to the British Mathematical Association).
Mathematics and murder. What triple murderer was also a brilliant French mathematician who did his finest work while confined to a hospital for the criminally insane? ) Creativity and madness. “There is a theory that creativity arises when individuals are out of sync with their environment. To put it simply, people who fit in with their communities have insufficient motivation to risk their psyches in creating something truly new, while those who are out of sync are driven by the constant need to prove their worth.
The three of you stare at the school of fish and watch them move in synchrony, despite their lack of eyes. The resulting patterns are hypnotic, like the reflections from a hundred pieces of broken glass. You imagine that the senses place a filter on how much humans can perceive of the mathematical fabric of the universe. If the universe is a mathematical carpet, then all creatures are looking at it through imperfect glasses. How might humanity perfect those glasses? Through drugs, surgery, or electrical stimulation of the brain?