In my reading of *Fermat’s Enigma* by Simon Singh I was struck by the amount of space devoted to the demise of Alan Turing — his persecution & suicide — until later in the book I encountered a similar treatment of the life of Galois. These biographical glimpses serve as digressions and delays on the road to the story of the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. They also, in a different discourse, model the theme of incomprehensibility and the need for bridges both social and mathematical. Singh presents us with this picture.

The value of mathematical bridges is enormous. They enable communities of mathematicians who have been living on separate islands to exchange ideas and explore each other’s creations. Mathematics consists of islands of knowledges in an sea of ignorance. For example, there is the island occupied by geometers who study shape and form, and then there is the island of probability where mathematicians discuss risk and chance. There are dozens of such islands, each one with its own unique language incomprehensible to the inhabitants of other islands. the language of geometry is quite different from the language of probability, and the slang of calculus is meaningless to those who speak only statistics.

What I of course in the domain of discursive analysis find interesting is the blowing up of bridges to find novel connections. Just a quirk of life history so different from Turing and Galois.

And so for day 1631

01.06.2011