Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Imagine that it's 11am i.e. this morning

It is 11am and I apologise for the lateness of this reminder to everyone. Once again the time has come to form new friendships and renew old ones (with me of course!) Well actually don't take that to mean what it says, I'll define it properly in due course but if you do enter this "friendship" relation with me (by attending the Galois Group lectures of course!) then please do drop me a smile. It can't kill can it? Of course, not smiling could mean that my antics infuriate you and you would rather I melt in front of your very eyes; but even so I don't mind "evil smiles". (I get them all the time from certain people who I will refrain from mentioning, but they know who they are! Actually they are evil but friendly smiles (don't ask!) so I'll let them off.)

Whoops, back to the point. Today there will be four lectures taking place and two by The Galois Group. The special thing about today's Galois Group lectures is that they are by two second year students, who at this moment in time might be giving me the "real" evil smile. The poster of this lecture which I linked yesterday is here (link to pdf file of poster). Due to the poster sticking problem and my "defeated" attitude for a few days, I really had let go of the Galois Group during this time. Normally I am always on Dr. Coleman's case to send this email, do that, speak to this person etc. but this time round I think I wasn't as big a bug as I would liked to have been. (He will obviously disagree to that, for I have made up for them "off days" yesterday and today!) I had totally forgotten about the refreshments yesterday, but thankfully got them this morning before coming into university.

Below are the abstracts and then my explanation with a few million words!

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Wednesday 27th February 2008 at 1:10-2pm; Alan Turing Building - G205

Student 1-Rubik's Cube: A Permutation Puzzle.
Abstract
The Rubik's Cube is an iconic mechanical puzzle from the 1980?s that is interesting mathematically as it admits a natural group structure offering a tangible example of a large permutation group($ \subset S_{48}$). In this talk, we shall discuss some basic properties of the so-called 'Rubik's Cube group' and see how solving the puzzle essentially involves calculating an inverse element in terms of 6 particular generators.

And

Student 2: The Agony and the Ecstasy - Mathematics and Art
Abstract
Surrealism or Impressionism, illusions or the Renaissance, calligraphy or tiles- whether you look at fine pencil sketches or deep paintbrush strokes or spiralling whorls of colour, hiding right behind, you'll find Maths. Artists use it to show an honest reflection of life or they might paint the mathematically impossible in order to create an alternate reality or occasionally the painting might just be an allegory for Maths. Whether embracing it or rejecting it or hiding it, all artists rely on Maths, and here's hoping to uncover it in this talk!

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OK, you can stop pretending that it's 11am now. Apologies for forgetting to post this, but call it luck, that I linked the poster yesterday but didn't mention anything.

Anyway the event, regardless of the poster problem, turned out to be great--the attendance was brilliant. I have a register going around for two reasons (which Dr. Coleman didn't specify!) Firstly so I can see where the audience is coming from i.e how many first years are attending, and how many second years etc. It seems that in today's lecture there were many second years due to the speakers being second years. Knowing these numbers allows me to revise my advertising plans and see what I'm doing wrong. I think The Galois Group is still a whisper to many, but quite a few of the staff and post grad students have caught on now so I can relax slightly about them particular adverts. Word of mouth is the biggest thing I rely on, and I make it a point to mention the Galois Group lectures to anyone who I haven't already seen at the lectures.

The second (trivial) reason is that I have to buy refreshments, so I have a brief idea on how much to buy. That mattered initially but now I think I have a better idea on this.

I realise I haven't spoken about the lecture in this post, but I hope to do so soon. All I can say is that the speakers did a brilliant job, and their composure in front of everyone was great. Memories of my lecture came back to me, when I had decided to rush through the ending, rather than "chopping the tail off". We learn I suppose, but today's lectures were interesting and very well delivered.

Answer me this: WHY do I get nervous and excited at the same time, every Wednesday?? I can't sit still, I can't eat, I have to be doing something! It's not panicked nerves for I was confident about attendance today, but the excitement causes adrenaline to overflow through my veins. My friends told me to calm down. Pfft, like that's ever going to happen. It's not nerves like when it was my lecture, but truly it is an amazing feeling. I feel that energy. I drink from it. When I see people attending the lectures I get happy you see, and this coupled with nerves and excitement is a bad combination! My PT also told me to calm down, as did DC and many people. (DC was lucky that I was taking pictures when he said something about broken bones, and hinted at this having something to do with me! I wouldn't have thrown the camera... how can you suggest such a thing! It was a birthday present.... but still!)

Whoops apologise for that. That energy is still floating about, and I have the biggest of grins on my face. I feel that only the outer part of my body exists, and the Galois Group has occupied the insides of me, draining me. Although that energy is there, I am very very close to exhaustion. I want to however, before I shut up, thank all the people who make this "dream" a reality. I.e those who attend the lectures, those who munch on refreshments afterwards, those who throw an encouraging word into the ring, and especially those whose nerves are tested due to my persistence and sometimes annoying presence. (Well it depends on who you are in this case!!)

I used the royal "we" today and was quickly reminded that I shouldn't say "we" when talking about the Galois Group but "I". This saddened me for a few seconds, but I recovered by explaining that when "we" write maths, "we" don't use "I" but "we". Sigh. Seriously though, thank you very much and I hope that you continue attending future lectures organised by The Galois Group. (Trust me: a happy and smiling bean is better than a green and angry one. :D)

After the Galois Group lectures, at 4pm it was the Mathematics in Society lecture. This was the first lecture I have attended on my own, and none of my PT's were around too. (I did try to convince two of them to attend, but not too desperately for it is enough that they attend the Galois Group lecture!) I'm glad that I did attend though and felt even better because I didn't have to see any bored faces, of those who I would have "forced" to attend . I must say that today I listened to four very interesting lectures, and I had a burning question on my lips for the second speaker which I couldn't ask due to having to rush home. I wrote it down though and when I post about all the lectures that took place today (hopefully tomorrow) I will inform you of it then.

By the way: probability and statistics shouldn't be said in one breath, and both modules should be taught separately. I mentioned to Mike today, about my demoralising first semester this year, and a few Tweenies were there. They said they found the semester OK. I didn't want to argue or discuss this further, but the difference I believe in our attitudes (apart from me being a learner who needs lot of motivation) is that I seek some motivation from the course material. I want to understand the maths for the sake of understanding it and be wowed by it (even probability). Today I was wowed by statistics. My friends though, I feel are only concerned with understanding enough maths to pass their exams brilliantly*. I don't grudge them for that attitude, but that is why they don't understand why I wasn't a happy bean last semester.

*(AHHHHHHHHHH- I had so many dreams about the results last night, and woke up on many occasions too. I am a bag of nerves and like my first PT said I have to bottle this up to everyone. Thank the skies for my three PTs and this blog though! I am not ready for tomorrow. I wish they didn't count this year too.)

I am a pedantic learner I think, but it does make me slightly on the down side to see this attitude amongst so many people. They're very good at maths my friends, especially quick on the uptake (which is the opposite to me), but the beauty of their subject escapes them. That is the only reason I can think of why I didn't like certain modules last semester, whereas enjoyed others.

A depressing note to end the post, but I talked to a LOT of people today. Many who I didn't know before, and each conversation brought up a different topic. (Hence why a lot of different moods to this post).

They say repetition is an effective strategy in English, especially when you repeat something three times. So for a cheerful end to this post: cheerio once again to everyone whose made the Galois Group what it is.

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