Ten powerful thoughts iambically defined,
Ten syllables in rhymes to tease your mind


presented by Kate Jones
for the attendees of Gathering for Gardner X
March 28-April 1, 2012 – Atlanta, Georgia



From Singularity to G4G,
A roundtrip through epistemology

Prologue—Every two years, a gathering of Martin Gardner fans takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, with an amazing group of scientists, mathematicians, puzzlers, magicians, and polymaths who come together to celebrate Martin Gardner's legacy and to share stories about their own research and achievements. Dozens of presentations keep the guests stimulated, entertained, thrilled and awed. Kate's contributions usually take the form of a short philosophical commentary playing with the number of the event, sometimes in poetic form. Several have been published in the proceedings of the Gatherings through the years. Some are included in this website as well.

In 2010, for the 9th Gathering, Kate summed up the history of the Universe from the Big Bang to the future in 9 haikus (153 syllables). For this 10th Gathering, she offered the cycles of infinity in 10 couplets of iambic pentameter (10 syllables per line, 10 metric feet of verse). Thanks to Joe Marasco for suggesting this format.

These 10 points were illustrated with images of our puzzles that have a theme of 10—whether 10 pieces, or 10-fold symmetry, or a 10x10 grid.

  1. Being—the interface to understanding
  2. Understanding—encoded through mathematics
  3. Mathematics—the matrix of language
  4. Language—the carrier wave of thought
  5. Thought—the vehicle of Reason
  6. Reason—the guardian of truth and reality
  7. Reality—that which is, in every form and structure
  8. Structure—the template of evolution
  9. Evolution—the ascent toward infinity
  10. Infinity—the birth place of being


Ten Couplets to encapsulate the tale


1. Being—the interface to understanding

I am; what is it; and what does it do;
And what should I do with it, and with you?

 



2. Understanding—encoded through mathematics

Well, let us say that one and one is two.
That seems to fit, and so it must be true.

 



3. Mathematics—the matrix of language

There’s more—there’s deca-, hecto-, mega-, giga,
And peta-zetta-yotta, even bigga...

 




4. Language—the carrier wave of thought

So words are handy to give things a name
That others recognize to mean the same.

 




5. Thought—the vehicle of Reason

The wetware chortles in its galloping growth
And makes some rules to sort out what it knoweth.

 





6. Reason—the guardian of truth and reality

Debunk the junk, each fallacy and fad,
Though Martin showed, illusions aren’t all bad.

 





7. Reality—that which is, in every form and structure

If it exists, it’s energy or matter
And other stuff, like cosmic background chatter.

 





8. Structure—the template of evolution

Life’s blueprint builds ‘em, weird or elegant,
Genes make both dust mites and the elephant.

 




9. Evolution—the ascent toward infinity

New combinations play with what makes sense,
Like fractals bounded by the longest fence.

 




10. Infinity—the birth place of being

160 billion light years through,
The Universe kept on till it made you.

 




Postscript—The "Martin" mentioned in No. 6 refers to Martin Gardner, who has inspired countless readers over 70 years to take an interest in mathematics, through his 25 years of writing the recreational math column in Scientific American and dozens of books, including Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science and other works debunking pseudoscience and mysticism. Martin was also a magician and well understood how its effects are created using the laws of physics, misdirection of the viewers' attention, and the delight and wonder of creating seemingly magical illusions.

Martin's writings inspired Arthur C. Clarke to include pentominoes in his science fiction classic, Imperial Earth. As a consequence of reading that book, Kate Jones became fascinated by pentominoes, leading to the founding of Kadon Enterprises, Inc., and the development of Kadon's entire product line of recreational mathematics puzzles and games. Martin's writing about pentominoes had deeper roots. See the whole story in our Polyominoes section.






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