The lighter side of math
limericks about famous people
presented by Kate Jones
for the attendees of the Joint Mathematics Meetings
January 16-19, 2019 – Baltimore, MD
There once was a famous logician
For whom paradoxes were his ambition.
For decades he lit mental fires
With tales of truthtellers or liars
Getting people to think was Raymond Smullyan’s great mission.
There once was an artist supreme
Whose geometry had a rare scheme:
Tessellations and creatures
And impossible features
M. C. Escher created an infinite dream.
There once was an author of note.
The hundreds of essays he wrote
All helped celebrate
How math is so great.
On all of those topics Martin Gardner you’ll quote.
There once was a radical physicist.
Upon experiments to find truth he’d insist.
You can quote him galore
He was wise to the core
Richard Feynman opined that, for science, minds must exist.
A fabulous polymath whom we have sighted
The Queen of England has physically knighted.
Of black holes and quantum stuff
Our knowledge is never enough,
Though with Roger Penrose’s tilings the whole world is delighted.
Click on names for biographical notes.
PostscriptKate Jones has been fortunate to have known several of these polymath celebrities personally: Martin Gardner, Raymond Smullyan, and Roger Penrose. Each has been most gracious and supportive of her artistic efforts to bring math and its recreations to general audiences. At math conferences the artistic side of these concepts introduces attendees to the visible sensations of how beautiful the combinatorial aspects of tessellations can be. To audiences at art festivals, we show how interesting the math elements of decorative puzzles can be. Math and art, a match made in heaven or, actually, in the galaxy.