Amateur Mathematics

There is a Nobel Prize for physics, chemistry, physiology of medicine, literature, and peace. There is a related prize for economics (though not officially a “Nobel Prize”). But there is no such award for mathematics… it seems a shame. When my good friend Manuel pointed this out to me years ago, I was surprised – I hadn’t ever given it much thought before. The only prize that I know of (perhaps the biggest, though I’m not certain) is the Fields Medal . Which is great, but if you don’t make your mark by the time you’re 40… tough luck, dude.

I recently had to do a report on Leonhard Euler for my Master’s Program (The History of Mathematics) and it got me thinking how once upon a time the dilettante with some time on his hands could delve into mathematics and make a contribution… given skill and a lot of effort (e.g., Leibniz). But now it just feels like all the easy stuff has been found and contributions require a doctorate, or nearly one. It can get kind of depressing.

Then I got to thinking about Marjorie Rice and her contributions to tiling the plane. (Pete – had you ever heard this before?)

I’ve known about this for years, but as my students are currently researching related material while working on a symmetry project I was reminded of Marjorie Rice and her achievements of 30-some years ago.

Although I’ve known about it, I thought a few of you might not have heard and might find this of interest. In fact, Manuel was showing me about her in a textbook he had and was surprised to find I knew Marjorie – kind of silly really, but it IS fun to be able to hang on the coat-tails of someone, even if you only sort-of know them and they made their mark 30 years ago. šŸ™‚

Anyway, maybe there is something out there for me to contribute… but the odds aren’t with me.


One Response to “Amateur Mathematics”

  1. Yes, I had heard about her just a few back, actually, from my dad. Pretty amazing, though, if David is any indication, the Rice’s have some pretty smart genes. Get crackin’ Austin – the universe awaits!

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