Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Burning issues of the day

"Is every planar dual graph of a simple Venn diagram Hamiltonian?"
                — A Survey of Venn Diagrams: Open Problems

Ah, clarity! To put it another way, this question makes sense to several thousand people alive in the world today. Possibly tens of thousands. Not more. (We've drawn a line around those there are, Dr. Venn.) What kind of mind understands this stuff? Even bearing in mind that some of these questions make pretty pictures that, like art, inspire emotional responses, what does a child's garden of combinatorics look like? A nutcracker?

The gasp of recognition, the knowledge that one is personally humbled in the light of such gifts, is what marks the aristocratic mind, imho. Revolutions teach us about equality. Inequalities teach us about ourselves. As, of course, dogs teach us about who gets to bite whom. Isn't it interesting how quickly insight fades to meaninglessness?



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