07 April 2008

Mathematicians, we want our word back

Article: At 78, scientist hopes for proof soon that he was right about the Universe
Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article3701645.ece

Excerpt: The Higgs boson was the professor’s elegant 1964 solution to one of the great problems with the standard model of physics – how matter has mass and thus exists in a form that allows it to make stars, planets and people. He proposed that the universe is pervaded by an invisible field of bosons that consist of mass but little else.

Elegant: (credit - www.dictionary.com)
1. tastefully fine or luxurious in dress, style, design, etc.: elegant furnishings.
2. gracefully refined and dignified, as in tastes, habits, or literary style: an elegant young gentleman; an elegant prosodist.
3. graceful in form or movement: an elegant wave of the hand.
4. appropriate to refined taste: a man devoted to elegant pursuits.
5. excellent; fine; superior: an absolutely elegant wine.
6. (of scientific, technical, or mathematical theories, solutions, etc.) gracefully concise and simple; admirably succinct.

I concede that there is a dictionary definition putting the word "elegant" in the context of math and science. To me, the connotation of the word has an entirely artistic aesthetic - of beauty and refinement, not brute force arithmetic and theory. It's a woman in an evening gown. The word should be reserved for definitions 1-5.

It pisses me off when dudes with Vulcan brains steal our s*. Not to say that I don't have dear friends that are math-savvy - some of the greatest folks I know in fact! But I have met the seedy underbelly of the math world and they shouldn't be using this word in context six, because - it just doesn't fit into an equation.

No comments: