The Unapologetic Mathematician

Mathematics for the interested outsider


Well, I’m back, and in more or less one piece. The talk seems to have gone well, but that’s filtered through my superego saying that people generally like what I do when they see it, which is itself cover for my id’s default assumption that everyone thinks badly of me. YES I DID MY FIFTH GRADE RESEARCH REPORT ON FREUDIAN ANALYSIS WHEN EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING RACE CARS AND PONIES I AM A HUGE GEEK.

OK, I’m better now.

Anyhow, since I was near Los Angeles, Sgt. Friday would ask for “just the facts”. So here’s a closer slice to fact: John and his students (a big shout-out to those regular readers among them) liked it, as they told me at dinner. But they’re sort of the choir here. Them liking my talk just says it doesn’t belong on The FAIL Blog.

There were a couple guys up in the front row who were following and paying attention, but they seemed skeptical of the whole invariant/covariant distinction I’m trying to push. I really should have motivated the move to tangles better, and that might have helped smooth that over. From my side it was a good-natured difference in viewpoint, but was it the same on their end, or did they get the impression I was wasting their time?

I saw one person I’d spoken with earlier leave early. Did she have a previously-scheduled appointment, or was I just that unengaging?

I wish I could have gotten more time with Marta Asaeda, since I haven’t really seen her in years, but she was busy with a guest of her own most of the day.

And what of the silent majority? One young woman in particular stood out since she had what looked like the “confused” look on her face — not a good sign. But it was pretty consistent, never devolving into the “I give up, but don’t want to stand up and leave” look. Maybe it was her “thinking” face? Really, this is who I’m always the most neurotic about: the people who don’t say anything at all. I don’t mind if I don’t set the entire room on fire (metaphorically), especially in such a mixed audience as this was (I’m more used to seminars than colloquia), but I’d like people to go away thinking “that’s an interesting viewpoint, and one worth pursuing, even if it’s not something I’ll drop everything to chase down myself”.

Anyhow, I’ll go crazyier if I think about this forever, and I’ve got consequences of Green’s Theorem to show to my multivariable calculus class in 15 minutes — the best section of the entire course.


April 4, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. I am usually the girl with the confused look. This sometimes results in professors explaining things to me multiple times even when I got it pretty well the first time through. Perhaps, like me, she was trying to look engaged, but instead just looked extremely bewildered.

    Comment by Patricia Gordinier | April 9, 2008 | Reply

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