Doing What You Love

I must have heard this phrase a hundred, a thousand times, and yet never really admitted it into my brain. Until yesterday.

Yesterday was the moment when it all made sense. I mean, it doesn't really, not really really, but then nothing about this adventure makes sense. The only thing that makes sense is to keep going and see what happens. This is a Kierkegaardian leap of faith. Stepping into the unknown, out of my comfort zone.

A Sense of Peace

What makes sense is the odd sense of rightness I feel about doing this. I've only experienced it a few times. The moment when I knew I should get married to my grade school sweetheart. The moment when I switched from mechanical engineering to electrical engineering, when I was within two classes of graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue. Moments on the running trail, about an hour in, when the brain noise quiets and all that's left is serenity and peace.

It's a moment that's hard to describe, but here's the closest analogy: it's when I give up trying to live my own life, and let the universe's lifeforce, which feels like a stream of water, carry me to where it wants to. I give up resisting, and give in to the gentle pushing of its own will and direction.

Confessions of a Geometry Addict

I'd been studying geometry for the last two years. It was a plan of study that was random, directionless - with only a built-in sense of direction to help guide the way, and without goal. I wasn't going any money doing this. It just seemed right to do.

Along the way I posted a few articles here. I've filled up two bound notebooks with summaries of geometry notes, six spiral bound notebooks that are more like working papers that will never see the light of day, filled with errors, mistakes, blind alleys, and countless Word documents that no one will read. It was all for fun, all for my own amusement.

Writing a Book

I started to write a book. Then got serious about writing this book. The format's 6 x 9, small, a soft bound book a high school kid can throw in his backpack and fish out whenever he's bored. Look at the pretty pictures, wonder about the math behind the pretty pictures, maybe give it a go in a desultory sort of way. Eventually it'll get under his skin and he'll be forced by his own curiosity to know more about this bizarre geometry that doesn't appear in any of his textbooks.... This book is for him. This is for that teenager who's right on the borderline between doing science, or doing the arts. This might pull him back into the sciences. Or better yet, it'll convince him that there is no inherent boundary between the arts and the sciences. If science is done right, it is art. If art is done right, it respects and reflects science.

The moment of clarity was when I realized that this needed to be taught in class. Books are fine, but passing the torch of knowledge is an intense and personal, highly interactive human endeavor. I had to teach this stuff.

Standing In The Gap

I'm not the best teacher in the world. There are plenty better mathematicians out there. But it's a start. This feels like a stand-in-the-gap moment. Someone's got to do it. You might as well get your love of mathematics from me. I can show you the promised land. I'll help get your foot in the door, and then tell you where you should go next, who you should study next. I'm only your first stop along this road of knowledge.

"Advanced Euclidean Geometry"
and an introduction to dynamical interactive geometry software

Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 - Nov. 19, 2013
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Rust Library,
380 Old Waterford Rd. 20176
Leesburg, VA
(close to Ida Lee park)

Instructor: iwhosawtheface

An introduction to modern, post-high school geometry. Topics include the Euler line, the three exscribed circles and the extangents triangle, Ceva's and Menelaus' theorems, Euler's identity (the distance between the incenter and the circumcenter), harmonic conjugates, inversion with respect to a circle, Napolean's triangles, barycentric and trilinear coordinates, Morley's theorem, Soddy circles, Voronoi diagrams, and conic sections. You'll see geometry come alive when you begin using dynamical, interactive geometry software.

Limited to 15 people. Intended for high school math and physics teachers, amateur mathematicians, bright high school students, and anyone with a strong high school mathematics background. I expect you to know geometry, algebra, and trigonometry fairly well. Every math club in the area should send a representative.

The library computer room is modern and spacious. Every seat has a Windows PC. We will be running C.a.R. geometry software, running over Java. (This software runs on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. It's truly marvelous!) You are encouraged to bring your laptop so you can keep notes and projects on your own machine.

Please email for reservations. The class is free.

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