When I was in Math 204, Dr. Lewin showed us The Proof, a NOVA film about Fermat's Last Theorem and those associated with solving it. The purpose of showing it at this point, I believe, is multifold--to show us what it's like to be so concentrated on a problem, to show the value of proof in mathematics, to get inside the mind of a great mathematician. There are probably other reasons. Either way, she showed the film to my 204 class when I took the course two years ago and thinking that it would be really sad to know that would be your life's biggest achievement.
She didn't have a chance to show it to last year's 204 class, so this year she had a pizza and a movie night for last year's class and this year's class. Sarah, who was in last year's class, told me about it because she told Dr. Lewin she'd come and then realized she was working at that time (but still wanted to come--but hey, we math department people are quite flexible like that, even if we do demand proof), and I thought it'd be a good idea to gatecrash, just for fun. Okay, and to avoid writing my French paper. I just love digging myself into holes, don't I?
It turned out that I didn't have to.
After geometry I was sitting around in the math center across the hall reading over what we had done in class that day when Dr. Lewin asked me if I was actually working. I said no (and grinned to myself that I was actually reading what we had done in her class), and she asked if I knew how to work a DVD player. Now, technology isn't one of her stronger points, and the entire math department knows this. Seriously, if the math department had a TV show, this would be one of the running gags, along with my lucky purple eraser and the monkeys in Dr. Wiseman's assignments. I plan to investigate the last one further this spring.
Back to the story, though. I said yes, I did know how, and we went across the hall to the geometry classroom, and we went to the TV. A cassette tape case was sitting on the table. You know the ones I'm talking about--VHS. The ones you had to rewind. I looked at it, and I wanted so badly to say to this sixty-something-year-old woman who surely remembers VCRs better than I do, "Myrtle, this is a VCR." But I couldn't find it in my heart to say it.
So I checked all the preliminaries. The tape was in the VCR. The TV was on. The power to the VCR was on. I tried changing the channel, but the remote control wouldn't work. Strange. Finally I just hit Play. Let's hope for the best, I thought.
The FBI movie warning appeared on the screen for about thirty seconds, and the movie started to play. Success, stop, rewind. "I pushed play," I said when Dr. Lewin asked what I did. She did that, she told me. Strange.
I got the last laugh, though. After work tonight, I stopped by the same room. Three pizzas were sitting there (she had set the meat pizza separate from the others *grin*), and she was making a salad. Cups, plates, plasticware, napkins, and a gallon of orange juice were sitting next to the other two pizzas.
The above is Reason #2342343 I love ASC's Math Department.
People trickled in from the next two generations of 204 after mine, including the current one, who I might add are NOT using Schumacher, and that makes me sad. Ahem. Anyway, we got our food, we started the film...which was really loud. I jumped up, as I was right in front. We fiddled with the remote. Nothing. There was nothing on the VCR, meaning the thing that changed the volume had to be on the TV. Sure enough, there was a tiny Volume knob. I pushed it. Nothing happened. I should have known. I went to look for another remote, and when I returned, Dr. Lewin was turning it. The volume improved. Dur. So we all sat down and enjoyed.
It was really interesting seeing this for a second time, though. The first time I saw it, I was an ickle firstie experiencing her first sip of math beyond calculus, and I could hardly understand any of the actual math beyond the basics. Elliptic curves? Modular? Cool pictures, but whaaaat? But now, watching it for the second time, I felt like I had been there myself a bit with the research, even if I have yet to lock myself away for years to work on a problem. I also know what elliptic curves are now, and I have a vague understanding of modular forms. I even understood more of the symbols Wiles was scribbling down. That's progress, I tell you.
I've come a long way. There's still a long way to go, though.
Bring it, world.
Pretty flower time is over. Now you get the blades of grass. Agnes people, you get the chemically green grass.
In other news, Gloria in Evans hit it big in the scratch-off lottery. Better not let Dad see this; he's always bugging me about using my math to choose the winning lottery numbers, even though I keep telling him that it's almost impossible. Actually, calculating those odds on the back of the tickets was pretty fun. Maybe Dad and I should do that together over break.
In other2 news, I have a meeting re: Goldwater tomorrow afternoon. I haven't done a thing about it for over a month, as I mentioned a few days back. Hear those snakes in the background? They're waiting to eat me whole. I should probably ask for letters of recommendation at some point, too. A.K.A NOW.
I'd say 'remind me not to overwhelm myself again', but we all know how well that works out. Somehow, I think I like the feeling of being busy. There's always something going on, always somewhere to be, always something to do. But in the end, I have to take care of my own affairs, too.
I've been staying up a lot later than usual lately, as my roommate can definitely comment on. Normally I'm in bed around eleven or twelve by the latest during the week. Lately? I stayed up until three Wednesday night/Thanksgiving morning. And it's not insomnia-related for once. Hrm.
This afternoon I was hanging out in the green room at LJ Idol, and Melissa and Mira were just staring at me as I typed. It was really funny because I don't think I type that fast. Then again, my favorite computer games as a kid were the typing games where you had to type as fast as you could to prevent being eaten by a shark and the encyclopedia explorer games and the mathy games. Yes, I had unusual taste in childhood games. So finally Melissa Googled typing test, and she and I went at it. It was great, but it made her sad because I beat her every time. Dr. Lewin was in there (and no actual students), and she and Julia, who came in a few minutes later, just watched. It was great. Yes, this is what the math majors really do in their spare time. Well, that and play the dot game, where you connect the dots and try to make more boxes than the other person. I passed so many bus trips with that game thanks to being on the first bus stop in the morning.
Oh, and the novel? Still at 53k, but only because I haven't touched in awhile. I'll finish it before the end of the month, I swear. Sandra and Emily are bribing me with cereal. Therefore, I must finish. See, other WriMos out there? Bribery is a great motivator.
Okay, now to bed. Really.