Mathematics professor Manil Suri has made quite an impact with a fresh New York Times op-ed ed that re-introduces readers to mathematics through an approach based in the humanities.
In “How to Fall in Love with Math” Suri writes, “Despite what most people suppose, many profound mathematical ideas don’t require advanced skills to appreciate.” One idea that he finds often intrigues people is the origin of numbers.
He writes, “Think of it as a magic trick: harnessing emptiness to create the number zero, then demonstrating how from any whole number, one can create its successor. One from zero, two from one, three from two — a chain reaction of numbers erupting into existence. I still remember when I first experienced this Big Bang of numbers. The walls of my Bombay classroom seemed to blow away, as nascent cardinals streaked through space. Creatio ex nihilo, as compelling as any offered by physics or religion.”
The op-ed received the maximum of 360 comments in its first day online and quickly became the #1 most emailed article of the day. Read the full op-ed on The New York Times website and stay tuned for recaps of Suri’s upcoming radio interviews on the beauty, power and mass appeal of math.
Update: After Suri’s New York Times op-ed appeared in print, he was invited to interviews with Joy Cardin on Wisconsin Public Radio (listen) and Michael Cohen on 1320 WILS radio in Lansing, Michigan (listen). Suri’s Times piece remains the #4 most emailed article of the month.