austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

You've finished your juice, you're eating your snack

Before getting to our big post-my-birthday weekend plans there was a bit of actually kind-of work-related stuff to do. bunny_hugger's department with her fellow professional philosophers runs various talks and seminars and such, as they might, and there were a bunch in town for a bunch of sessions and for a departmental dinner. bunny_hugger was invited for obvious reasons, and I was invited along for reasons of being her spouce. I was happy to take the drive up to see her in her professional context. She worries often that I might get bored by the details of her department and its workings, but I like hearing academic shop talk, and the differences between mathematics and philosophy department shop talk are pretty small.

This gave me the chance to meet a good number of people in her department, including one elder philosopher who's been an enthusiastic booster of hers. bunny_hugger expected that he'd take some chance during dinner to talk about her attractiveness, and her new big rather hip Buggles-ish glasses, and her finding new joy in a husband. He managed to bring in all three in a single sentence within about five minutes of our first meeting. (The context was in what he learned as he aged, and a big one was appreciating each day that could bring such things as bunny_hugger and her joys into his experience.)

He was also delighted to meet me, since he's decided to learn quantum mechanics and knew I did mathematics stuff and even taught a (numerical) quantum mechanics course once. I did secretly fear that he had loaded up on the pop science treatments, which serve to make quantum mechanics look as spooky and weird and non-mathematical as possible (this is probably the same fear that professional philosophers feel when meeting someone who's been teaching themselves philosophy), but he had been doing the actual stuff, for which you need calculus and linear algebra and the like, and --- as best I could tell without pulling out scratch paper and going into details --- he was doing fine. Unfortunately he sat at a different table during dinner, so all we got were the occasional hilarious snatches of his conversation over the background din.

After dinner bunny_hugger had to stop at the library and get some scan-tron tests graded. This gave us the chance to discover they had what looked like the old-fashioned model of modem where you put the phone receiver on the top of it to work. This turned out to be the teletype phone receiver instead, although the guy working the desk there admitted he didn't know what it was and had never seen one before he started working there himself.

Trivia: Niccolo Tartaglia declined the prize --- 30 meals --- which he had won for defeating Antonio Fior in their February 1535 challenge of solving thirty cubic equations. Forty days had been expected to be needed to complete the challenges; Targalia solved the ones given him in two hours. Source: Symmetry: A Journey Into The Patterns Of Nature, Marcus du Sautoy. (Trust me, if you were a mathematician, Tartaglia and his challenges are reasonably famous.)

Currently Reading: Lost In Translation, Edward Willett.


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