Saturday, March 14, 2015

Synesthesia, a taste of Minnesota's Spring

Happy Pi Day. Beware tomorrow's Ides of March. Enjoy the St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Get ready for this week's Vernal Equinox. Note Canada geese back from southern climes. Flocks of them, together with three swans, were clustered yesterday along the edge of the roadside pond at Eichten's bison pastures. Find Make some time to go fly a kite. Celebrate Spring in Minnesota. By my estimates, it only happens like this once every decade or so.

kite flying near the St. Croix in Stillwater
kite flying near the St. Croix in Stillwater
Photo by J. Harrington

Today's shades of green are brought to you by Pi and St. Patrick.

Squaring the Circle

By Philip Fried 
It’s a little-known fact that God’s headgear — 
A magician’s collapsible silk top hat,
When viewed from Earth, from the bottom up — 
Is, sub specie aeternitatis,

A pluperfect halo, both circle and square,
And a premonition of this truth
Spurred on an ancient philosopher,
Anaxagoras, to make numerous vain

Attempts to approximate the circle
Of his concerns with the square of the cell
He was jailed in for impiety.
Doomed calculations which God acknowledged

By doffing then pancaking his topper.
He was still bareheaded millennia later,
When he learned of von Lindemann’s proof that pi
Is not the root of a polynomial

With rational coefficients, hence
Squaring the circle’s impossible.
God un-collapsed, re-donned his hat!
But — it was 1882,

Progress was a juggernaut
And the public had no patience for “proof.”
From below, God’s gesture looked like a signal
For all hat- and cap-wearing men,

Proper in their headgear, for nations,
Well-stocked with helmets for delicate brainwork,
To take up “the compass and straightedge”
And prepare for a singular all-out attack

On this seductive conundrum, so men
Enlisted en masse in Geometry’s army,
Tossing up and away all hats
Of cloth, opaque haloes, hurray!

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