One thing that really fascinates me about mathematics is its very real
**permanence**.
It is essentially immortal...**Once a theorem always a theorem **would
summarize this viewpoint adequately. Few other areas of human endeavour
can boast this sort of inflexibility...Mathematicians become a part of
history through their active role as researchers; I am referring here to
the role of a mathematican as a discoverer/creator of new mathematics rather
than as an educator. Pythagoras
(ca.
585-500 B.C.) is remembered mostly for his result on the relationship between
the sides of a right angled plane triangle, remember Pythagoras'
theorem (?), something which is as true today, in 1996, as it was 2,500
years ago when he first discovered it, and which will be true forever more...

I always like to think about the role that mathematics, both elementary and advanced, plays in everyday life. What's really cool about science in general is that it uses the language of mathematics in order to make predictions about the state of the phenomena it is studying. For example, long after there is any thought left emerging from this planet of ours, the sun will continue in its orbit around the milky way, the moon will keep its revolutions around the earth, almost like clockwork, and the mathematics describing these motions will still be valid even though there is no one here to interpret them! Amazing isn't it? How can something be so permanent as to defy human reason?

I love the world of mathematics...I love the act of discovery; you push
these symbols around according to some laws that everyone accepts in the
field and then...voila'...out comes this result where the symbols now interact
with one another and there is new meaning to what you initially put in.
You've discovered, some would say uncovered, something new and pretty and
interesting about the mathematical world you interact with, something which
may or may not have any relevance whatsoever with the

One of the most fascinating and unsolved problems of classical differential
equations (a branch of mathematics that uses a whole lot of calculus) is
called **the problem of n bodies**. In other words, assume Newton's
laws hold in the universe we are studying, take, say 4 or 5 bodies (planets,
asteroids, moons, stars, ...) and put them in some position in space and
even initially at rest. The question is, what will be the relative position
of these bodies, say, 10 million years in the future? Unless you do some
very serious number-crunching using very powerful computers you won't know...well,
what I mean is, there isn't any
**formula** known to us that will tell
you this in a few minutes. This problem dates back to Newton himself, and
it remains essentially unsolved to this day. Notwithstanding this, the
Galileo
space probe still found its way to Jupiter because of the serious number-crunching
experiments referred to above... This is remarkable and I even find it
mystifying! Not only that but the "most remote object ever made by man"
is now more than 8 billion miles away! What
is it?