« In what sense do statistical methods provide scientific evidence? | Main | Recommended math finance books »

Mathematical epigraphs

Every recreational math book will quote from Lewis Carroll--that's understood. Even quotations from John Locke and Roger Bacon are not unexpected. But George Carlin, Seamus Heaney, and John Glenn? All six of these, and more, provide the chapter mottoes in Julian Havil's "Nonplussed! Mathematical Proof of Implausible Ideas."

How were the nonmathematicians worked in?

Carlin: "I'm sixty years of age. That's 16 Celsius." (introducing the chapter on the Birthday Paradox)

Heaney: "We want the surprise to be transitive like the impatient thump which unexpectedly restores the picture to the television set, or the electric shock which sets the fibrillating heart back to its proper rhythm." (for the chapter on transitivity: Effron's dice, coin tossing, etc.)

Glenn, when asked what went through his mind while he was crouched in the rocket nose-cone, awaiting blast-off: "I was thinking that the rocket has 20,000 components, and each was made by the lowest bidder." (a perhaps tenuous connection to "Hyperdimensions")

Nonplussed! Mathematical Proof of Implausible Ideas, by Julian Havil. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007. Mathematics Library QA99 .H38 2007 Link to MnCat Record

Unfortunately full citations for the epigraphs are not provided. Some of the more traditional ones, such as Bacon comparing mathematics to tennis, can be found in

Memorabilia mathematica; or, The philomath’s quotation-book, by Robert Edouard Moritz. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1914. Mathematics Library QA3 .M7 Link to MnCat Record
or
Mathematically Speaking: A Dictionary of Quotations, selected and arranged by Carl C. Gaither and Alma E. Cavazos-Gaither; illustrated by Andrew Slocombe. Bristol; Philadelphia: Institute of Physics Pub., 1998. Mathematics Library QA99 .M363 1998 Link to MnCat Record