Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM
Yorktown Heights, New York

I'm not going anywhere exotic this summer, but I'll be creating new artwork and publishing some science-fiction novels.

People sometimes wonder why I often focus on the fringes of science and care about mathematically-inspired art and science fiction. I believe these topics can be very important—not just for their educational value but because significant discoveries can come from such play. At first glance, some topics in recreational math may appear to be curiosities, with little practical application or purpose. However, I have found these experiments to be useful and educational—as have the many students, educators, and scientists who have written to me.

Throughout history, experiments, ideas and conclusions originating in the play of the mind have found striking and unexpected practical applications. In fact, many amazing mathematical findings have been made by amateurs, from homemakers to lawyers. These amateurs developed new ways to look at problems! that stumped the experts.

Science is filled with hundreds of examples of great discoveries and inventions that have come about through chance happenings and serendipity: Velcro, teflon, X-rays, penicillin, nylon.... Why not math too?


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