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Darwin, baboons, bassoons, & bobo the hobo

Mathematical Pie by William Moser Published in The Senior Times, April, 2001

J.E. Littlewood, one of the great mathematicians of the first half century, reported the following story about Charles Darwin.

Darwin had a theory that once in a while one should performa damn-fool experiment. It almost always fails, but when it does come off, it’s terrific. Darwin played the trombone to tulips. The result of this particular experiment was negative.

The Hungarian-American biochemist, Albert Von Szent-Gyorgyi (1893-1986) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries relating to cell respiration and to the composition of vitamin C.

I particularly like the following remark of his:

“Discovery consists in seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”

Now, a verse:

There once was a hairy baboon

Who always breathed down a bassoon

“For” he said, “it appears

That in billions of years

I shall certainly hit on a tune.” – A. Eddington

And another:

There was a young man from old Trinity

Who found the square root of infinity

While counting the digits

He was seized by the fidgets

So he chucked Math and took up Divinity.



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