Sunday, July 05, 2015

The Mathematician's Mistress

I've been thinking about numbers and sequences this weekend on my other blog.  In part because I'm a geek, in part because I read this piece in the NY Times and in part because Math Man has spent much of the last couple of days in his study with his mistress.

Before you get the wrong idea, there is a joke about mathematicians which goes something like this: Ask a mathematician if (he/she/they) would rather have a (wife/husband/spouse) or a (mistress/lover/leman2). The answer is, of course, both. When you leave, the spouse will assume you are off with the lover, the lover assumes you are with the spouse and you can go do your math undisturbed by either of them.

Math Man has been hot on the trail of a new math result, and so has been spending hours with his 'mistress' — the math.  He wakes up thinking of her, he vanishes into his office to look deeply into her...expressions. She has yet to completely yield to him, but he pursues her nonetheless.

I note that the apple (or in this case The Egg) does not fall far from the tree.

1.  Actually, all the versions of these sorts of jokes I see assume the engineer, the physicist, the mathematician, the whatever are straight cis men, which doesn't completely encompass my lived experience and so frequently annoys me.  Yes, I know, I've no sense of humor about this (#dontaskalice), and perhaps it would be more productive to rewrite the jokes imagining a somewhat more diverse set of scientists,  but in the meantime, I'm annoyed.

2. Honest to heavens, I was reading a modern piece in a magazine which used the word "leman" which I had only before seen in pretty bad medieval romance novels.3

3.  Yes, I'm aware this reveals that I have read bad medieval romance novels.

1 comment:

  1. "3. Yes, I'm aware this reveals that I have read bad medieval romance novels."

    But at least you're in good company. ;-)