My name has the perfect number of characters.
“Butterworth is slightly impatient with this chicken and egg question - which comes first, zeal or hard work? He says that “if, for whatever reason, you start working hard at mathematics when all your classmates don’t, then the teacher is going to favour you, so you’re going to get external rewards, and you’re going to get the internal rewards of being able to do something rather well that your mates aren’t so good at, and so you’ll start off a virtuous circle of external rewards, internal rewards, you work a bit harder, you get even farther ahead of your classmates, who aren’t actually putting in the time. So it wouldn’t be surprising that if random people who for some reason select to pursue maths on the whole get rewarded because they are going to be better than their peers.””
— Do Math
“Mathematics is a process of staring hard enough with enough perseverance at the fog of muddle and confusion to eventually break through to improved clarity. I’m happy when I can admit, at least to myself, that my thinking is muddled, and I try to overcome the embarassment that I might reveal ignorance or confusion. Over the years, this has helped me develop clarity in some things, but I remain muddled in many others. I enjoy questions that seem honest, even when they admit or reveal confusion, in preference to questions that appear designed to project sophistication.”
The Mystery of 3-Manifolds - William Thurston (by PoincareDuality)
Very sad to say, but Twitter informs me that Bill Thurston recently died. He was an amazing teacher and mathematician. I never was able to take courses with him at Cornell, but one of my professors was very influenced by his thinking and pedagogy.
“Why would someone learn 20 or 50 languages?
“Hyperpolyglot, Alexander Arguelles (…) wants to explore his consciousness, to encounter a language as a living entity, and to collect the esoteric knowledge of these encounters. “Most of the languages I’ve studied I’ve never spoken, and I probably never will,” he told me. “And that’s okay with me. That’s nice if you can do that, but it’s rare that you have an interesting conversation in English. Why do I think it would be any better in another language?”
— Alexander Arguelles, American scholar of foreign languages, polyglot, Adventures with an Extreme Polyglot: Excerpt from ‘Babel No More’, cited in Michael Erard, Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners, Free Press, 2012. (via amiquote)