I read a few stories about math lately. One of them is a story by Kevin Hartnett about Francis Su, who believes math can be a gateway to a better life. To Live Your Best Life, Do Mathematics.:
Christopher, an inmate serving a long sentence for armed robbery who had begun to teach himself math from textbooks he had ordered. After seven years in prison, during which he studied algebra, trigonometry, geometry and calculus, he wrote to Su asking for advice on how to continue his work. After Su told this story, he asked the packed ballroom at the Marriott Marquis, his voice breaking: “When you think of who does mathematics, do you think of Christopher?”
If I learn mathematics and I become a better thinker, I develop perseverance, because I know what it’s like to wrestle with a hard problem, and I develop hopefulness that I will actually solve these problems. And some people experience a kind of transcendent wonder that they’re seeing something true about the universe. That’s a source of joy and flourishing.
And another by Jinju Jang, The story of a designer conquering mathematics.:
I was quite proud of my artwork. It looked interesting, saved so much time compared to creating the same design in Illustrator or Photoshop. However, I realised without understanding geometry, there was no chance for me to reach somewhere near to Marius Watz.
Jinju slowly leveled up her math skills, applying it to everything she did along the way.
Of course, this all reminds me of Ana Tudor, who is an unconventional (and at times self-deprecating) mathematician, who uses her considerable math skills to create art with code.
And also a wonderful recent talk by Natalya Shelburne, Color Theory for people who code SVG and CSS. Here’s a million dollar quote, very slightly paraphrased:
If someone says to you, don’t you miss doing creative stuff, as an engineer? Don’t you miss the creativity of the art world? You can say: I’m working on an infinite canvas capable of any size and shape, that’s already glowing every color possible into the eyes of just about everyone on the planet. And I get to decide the kind of experience, feeling, and emotion they are going to have. How is that not creative?
More on color theory from our own Sarah Drasner: A Nerd’s Guide to Color on the Web