Mandelbrot’s The Fractalist, Chapter 17: Paris, 1954–55

Young Mandelbrot has completed his PhD and looking for employment, mentors and other problems that will all work towards his goal of a Keplerian type view of a major problem. Zipf put him on the path to Fractals, but Fractals have not yet come to his life.

Best Quote(s)

“…. the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences.”

Mandelbrot, quoting Wigner in Chapter 17

“… his fear of being a mere survivor of the last century, and his feeling of being a mathematician unlike all the others.”

Mandelbrot, describing Levy’s autobiography in Chapter 17

Page by Page, Screen by Screen, Swipe by Swipe

2749 Pierre Mendès-France (1907–82).

2755

“Indefatigable, he was ridiculed by opponents for keeping a glass and a bottle of milk on his desk. In France? Yes, his constituency in Normandy produced milk, not wine. Besides, he was effective in fighting cheap alcohol.”

2765

Paul Lévy

“Getting to know Paul Lévy was one of my few academic accomplishments in 1954–55. He never had a formal disciple, I never had a formal teacher, and I never thought of becoming his clone or shadow. Yet much of probability theory has long consisted of filling logical gaps in his works…”

2771

“He documented his life, thoughts, and opinions at length in a book well worth reading because of his lack of any attempt to appear better or worse than he was. The best passages are splendid. In particular, he describes in touching terms both his fear of being a mere survivor of the last century, and his feeling of being a mathematician unlike all the others. This feeling was widely shared. I recall John von Neumann saying in 1954, “I think I understand how every other mathematician operates, but Lévy is like a visitor from a strange planet. His own private methods of arriving at the truth leave me ill at ease.”

2782

“One half of the story is part of the mystery the great mathematical physicist Eugene Wigner called the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences.”

And the corollary …

2804

Andrei Nikolaevich Kolmogorov (1903–87)

“… he antagonized the notorious Trofim Lysenko, a quack favored by Stalin who destroyed genetics in Russia, and fell into disfavor. He reemerged with a pathbreaking paper on turbulence…”

2815

“John von Neumann seemed to seek the hottest topics of the day.”

About flybrand1976

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1 Response to Mandelbrot’s The Fractalist, Chapter 17: Paris, 1954–55

  1. Pingback: Mandelbrot Part 2: Chapters 8 – 20, “My Long and Meandering Education in Science and in Life” | Fred Lybrand

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