mini-FOLLOW-UP -- More Beauty counts

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mini-FOLLOW-UP --
More Beauty Counts

by Bertha Vanatian, AIR staff


Investigator M. Harris

Our Beauty Counts Contest produced nothing but winners. A few were featured in mini-AIR 2000-04. Here is a further helping of lovelies.

The contest was announced in mini-AIR 2000-03. It sought to identify the most beautiful mathematical entity in the universe(s).

The competition wis open to individual mathematicians, groups, lemmas, theorems, proofs, and/or computational entities of any kind.

Imaginary entries were as welcome as any other kind.

Personal Work

"I'd like to submit for consideration the work (see photo) of orthopedist Theodore I. Macey, MD. Dr. Macey is solely or partially responsible for recreating me as the Bionic Woman following four joint replacement surgeries. In spite of having both hips replaced, I am still able to put both ankles behind my head. Now that is a feat of bio-engineering!" --investigator Marcie Harris

All Set

"The most beautiful mathematical entity is clearly the fractal. If I had to narrow that down, I'd say the Mandelbrot Set. It has infinite beauty, and that's a lot." --investigator Mike Scullin

Nifty Little Numbers

"While your contest runs counter to my philosophy (we constantly tell our 4 year old that she is beautiful, but almost always remember to add, "not that it matters") I cannot resist nominating (not that I'm eligible, being neither a mathematician nor any of your other nominating categories) the zero, which is beautiful both conceptually and physically/graphically, as well as my choice for runner-up, that ratio which generates those perfect rectangles, whatever they're called (I told you I'm no mathematician!)" --investigator Vic Bass

"I nominate the number 8. The hourglass shape gets me every time." --investigator Michael Strauss

"8. Vertically it is beautiful, symetrical, deep (the first cube of a whole number greater than 1), with full round luscious curves. Horizontally, like any great beauty, it is Infinitely better." --investigator Dan Davis

A Most Provocative Question

Having read the recently published book Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex, I was led to wonder if there is anything at all that could NOT be fetishized or eroticized. The best candidate I could think of was: purely mathematical entities. But the reported results of the Beauty Counts Contest suggest that perhaps some people respond very warmly indeed to mathematical beauty. Might there be some who would regard the Nova report about Fermat's Last Theorem as a pornographic video? I believe, on good evidence, that seeking an answer to this question would be at least as worthwhile as many other (mini-)AIR research efforts. --David Austin

This is a HotAIR exclusive feature. For a complete list of the others, see What's New.