Apr 7, 2012

G is for...


Folks, let me tell you a little story, a story about a man of the mathematical cloth who lived way back in ancient France...

Okay, I'm not just going to rip off Stefanie, the Ballad of Galois, by the Klein Four Group... by the way, if you haven't heard their mathematics acapella, you're living 1 nth of your life, where n is inversely proportional to your love of math (for some n between 1 and positive infinity, obviously).

Evariste Galois was a radical mathematician, in the teenage mutant ninja turtles vernacular. At nineteen, the man had practically invented a new branch of mathematics (group theory, it's cool stuff), or at least laid the groundwork for future mathematicians to explore. We're still finding ways of applying his theories today, in everything from image processing to music theory to molecular orbits to the solution of a Rubik's Cube.

He was also a political activist, a Republican who spoke out against the reign of Louis Philippe in the early 1800s. He was imprisoned for his political views, denied admission to the most prestigious college for mathematics in France because his instructors couldn't follow his reasoning, and was expelled from the only academy that would take him after publicly criticizing the school's director.

And after all that, he was killed in duel over the honor of the woman he loved. So here's to Galois, the thinker, the lover, the fighter. We salute the memory of what you were, and lament the dream of what you might have been.


  1. A mathematician as well as lover-- great combo.

    Look forward to your challenge run…
    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  2. So how did we go from someone like this to the stereotype of thick glasses and pocket protectors?