Our wisdom comes from our tradition and also comes from the west. However, sometimes we may neglect the third source of wisdom, which is the power of inter-discipline studies. In May 24th, our "SMS Lecture" welcomes a math master and poet – Professor Tianxi Cai from Zhejiang University. He made a speech named “From Seeing to Discovering.”
Based on his own research, traveling experience and writings, Professor Cai shared his feelings, viewpoints and experience about science, art and life with the students. Principal Huawei Zhu, Vice Director of the Teaching Division Yuesha Wang, and the class teacher of the junior competition class Wentao Zhang presented the event as guests.
In the beginning of the lecture, Professor Cai first showed the students a series of paintings: the momentum of the Pythagorean theorem, melancholy about 16 regular numbers and some other paintings about vision disparity. Professor Cai commented that those art works show that geometry and algebra could help artists compose better works, and vice versa – art could also contribute to the development of math. That is the charming of the crossing of the disciplines. Professor Cai continues that classical art describes the world by imitation. However, from the 19th century, since Einstein and Picasso, people tend to depict the world using science and art, which is the characteristic of modernity. Then, what is the difference between the tradition and the modernity? Professor Cai concludes with one sentence - the tradition is about imitation while the modernity is about wit. What is wit? Wit is to associate two seemingly irrelevant things with reasonable manners.
After this session, professor Cai raised several math questions to the students. The students had heated discussion about those questions and after the discussion, they strived to answer those questions.
Then, professor Cai talked about the connection between poem and math. He used the poem In the Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound to illustrate that math and poem are actually closely associated, for instance, they are both the most liberal intellectual activity of human beings.
Near the end of the lecture, Professor Cai recites the poem Inquiry to the students in French, and shared two of his mottoes with the students. Professor Cai ends his lecture with a poem he composed when he was 20 years old.
Shenzhen Middle School Lecture