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Ian Stewart

Datum narození: 24. září 1945

Ian Stewart je anglický matematik a autor populárně naučných publikací a vědecko-fantastické literatury.

„„V matematice,“ tvrdil David Hilbert, „neexistuje žádné ‚ignorabimus‘… Musíme vědět, dozvíme se.“ Jako mnohé výroky letitých vědců s nezpochybnitelnou reputací, i tento byl naprosto mylný.“

„If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we'd be so simple that we couldn't.“ The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World

„There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary numerals, and those who don't.“ Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

„Religion hinges upon faith, politics hinges upon who can tell the most convincing lies or maybe just shout the loudest, but science hinges upon whether its conclusions resembe what actually happens.“

„Unless you are genuinely interested in working with someone, don't. It doesn't matter how big an expert they are, or how much grant money the project would bring in. Stay away from things that do not interest you.“ Letters to a Young Mathematician

„if a theorem is geometrically obvious why prove it? This was exactly the attitude taken in the eighteenth century. The result, in the nineteenth century, was chaos and confusion: for intuition, unsupported by logic, habitually assumes that everything is much nicer behaved than it really is.     Good“ Concepts of Modern Mathematics

„Music can be appreciated from several points of view: the listener, the performer, the composer. In mathematics there is nothing analogous to the listener; and even if there were, it would be the composer, rather than the performer, that would interest him. It is the creation of new mathematics, rather than its mundane practice, that is interesting. Mathematics is not about symbols and calculations. These are just tools of the tradequavers and crotchets and five-finger exercises. Mathematics is about ideas. In particular it is about the way that different ideas relate to each other. If certain information is known, what else must necessarily follow? The aim of mathematics is to understand such questions by stripping away the inessentials and penetrating to the core of the problem. It is not just a question of getting the right answer; more a matter of understanding why an answer is possible at all, and why it takes the form that it does. Good mathematics has an air of economy and an element of surprise. But, above all, it has significance.“

„This is rather an awe-inspiring statement to get out of a straightforward uniqueness theorem in mathematics.“ Does God Play Dice?: The New Mathematics of Chaos

„The urban myth that carrots are good for your eyesight originated in wartime disinformation, intended to stop the Nazis wondering why the British were getting so good at spotting raiding bombers.“ In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World

„Most information doesn’t constitute a story. Think of a telephone directory: lots of information, strong cast, but a bit weak on narrative. What counts in a story is its meaning. And that’s a very different concept from information.“

„Only three constants are significant for star formation: the gravitational constant, the fine structure constant, and a constant that governs nuclear reaction rates.“ Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe

„Barzellette matematiche I (*)
Un biologo, uno statistico e un matematico sono seduti un caffè e guardano alla gente che passa.
Un uomo e una donna entrano in un palazzo dall'altra parte della strada. Dieci minuti dopo ne escono accompagnati da un bambino.
"Si sono riprodotti" dice il biologo.
"No" ribatte lo statistico. "È un errore nell'osservazione. In media sono sia entrate sia uscite due persone mezza".
"No, no, no" interviene il matematico. "È del tutto ovvio. Se adesso entra qualcuno, il palazzo sarà vuoto".

(*) Lo scopo principale di queste barzellette non è farvi ridere, ma mostrarvi che cos'è che fa ridere i matematici e consentirvi di sbirciare in un angolo oscuro del loro ambiente culturale.“
Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

„IQ is a statistical method for quantifying specific kinds of problem-solving ability, mathematically convenient but not necessarily corresponding to a real attribute of the human brain, and not necessarily representing whatever it is that we mean by ‘intelligence’.“ In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World

„Maxwell's equations didn't just change the world. They opened up a new one.“

„Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is [exists]. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is... There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.“ In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World

„The Black–Scholes equation changed the world by creating a booming quadrillion-dollar industry; its generalisations, used unintelligently by a small coterie of bankers, changed the world again by contributing to a multitrillion-dollar financial crash whose ever more malign effects, now extending to entire national economics, are still being felt worldwide.“ In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World

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