Jerry P. King

 

On his book Mathematics in 10 Lessons: The Grand Tour

Cover Interview of June 02, 2009

Lastly

C. P. Snow famously asserted that all of Western intellectual society has become separated into two groups and he claimed that between the two groups there exists a vast gulf - a gulf filled with indifference at best and, at worst, hostility and dislike.  Snow called these groups Two Cultures and said that one group was composed of scientists while the other consists of literary intellectuals.  We now think of them as being made of scientists and humanists, respectively.

A finer, and more accurate, description of the two cultures is that they are the M-Culture and the N-Culture.  The M’s are those people who possess a certain level of mathematical sophistication and the N’s are those who do not.  The M’s and the N’s cannot communicate because the M’s speak mathematics and the N’s do not.  Thus it is mathematics that forms the gulf between the two cultures.  But the gulf can just as easily be thought of as a bridge.

If you are an N you might live a completely happy life without ever understanding the M’s.  But, if you want to understand what the M’s do then you must cross the bridge.  Mathematics in Ten Lessons shows a way.


© 2009 Jerry P. King