a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
A mathematician nearly loses his life to appendicitis. While
sedated in the hospital, he describes the loony stuff that flits through his
head, and how it relates to the subjective and personal processes by which a
theoretical physicist arrives at useful math. (Interestingly, I recently
heard Brian Greene, the physicist/writer, describe basically the same
process in a talk on C-SPAN 2's Book TV.)
Althought the character in the story describes himself as a physicist and not a mathematician (we could debate for hours about which would be correct), he discusses mathematics quite explicitly. In particular, he explains why his branch of physics is based on the use of abstract mathematics and not scientific experiments.
BTW: It turns out that the story is supposed to be a non-traditional acceptance speech that the character gives after accepting a prestigious award for his work in theoretical physics.
Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1989.
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(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)