17 May 2010

On swashbuckling experimentalists

Chad Orzel, physicist, writes why I'd never make it as a mathematician. He calls himself a "swashbuckling experimentalist" and says that he doesn't like thinking too hard about questions of convergence and the like. This is in reference to Matt Springer's most recent Sunday function, which gives the paradox:

1 - 1/2 + 1/3 - 1/4 + ... = log 2

1 - 1/2 - 1/4 + 1/3 - 1/6 - 1/8 + ... = (log 2)/2

I find that I tend to act "like a physicist" in my more experimental work. Often I'm dealing with the coefficients of some complicated power series (usually a generating function) which I can compute (with computer assistance) and don't understand too well. Most of the time the things that "look true" are. This work is, in some ways, experimental, which is why it's tempting to act like a physicist.

Oh, yeah, I graduated today.


Dan said...

Congratulations Michael! Looking forward to seeing what you do next :)

Anthony said...


Akhil said...


Mark said...

Congratulations Dr. Lugo!

Pratik Poddar said...

The answer to the paradox can be found here: http://www.math.ku.edu/~lerner/m500f09/Rearrangements.pdf

Nice Blog BTW.