Posts Tagged ‘mathematics’

New Release: Jenniemae & James

March 30th, 2010 No comments

51NeBTCd1ML._SL160_By Brooke Newman
Harmony | 320pgs
Release Date: March 30, 2010

Brooke Newman recounts the true story of the unusual, yet enduring friendship between her father, James and his African-American housekeeper Jenniemae, in Jenniemae & James: A Memoir in Black and White. James Newman was a brilliant and distinguished mathematician, well known for defining the “googol” (google) concept in math and authoring the important work The World of Mathematics. In contrast, Jenniemae Harrington was a poor, uneducated, heavy-set woman, who though deeply religious, loved to play the lottery with numbers that came to her in dreams. During the ’40′s and ’50′s, the unlikely pair bonded through their sharp minds and shared love of numbers. As racial tensions rose throughout the country, planting the seeds for the Civil Rights Movement, household tensions grew due to James’ infidelities and his wife’s emotional problems. Through it all, Jenniemae became a steady, loving force in the home. This bi-racial friendship may have been outside the cultural norm of the time, yet it blossomed into a wellspring of calm, caring and loyalty for Jenniemae, James, and his family.
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Descartes’ Purloined Letter to be Returned

March 22nd, 2010 No comments
Portrait of René Descartes by Frans Hals

Portrait of René Descartes by Frans Hals

When Erik-Jan Bos, a scholar at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, conducted a recent Google search for documents referencing philosopher René Descartes, he made an extraordinary discovery. A letter written by Descartes in 1641, and later stolen from the Institut de France, had been buried in the archives of Haverford College for over a century. Its theft was documented in the 1880′s, when Count Guglielmo Libri, a mathematics professor and administrator for France’s public libraries, pilfered thousands of valuable letters and documents. He then fled to England to avoid prosecution and sold the pieces off to various buyers. The letter came into the possession of the Pennsylvania college as part of a large collection of correspondence and ephemera, signed by notable political and literary figures, donated by the widow of Haverford alumni Charles Roberts, class of 1864. It is likely that Roberts purchased the letter from a dealer, and did not know it was stolen. Read more…