I started to write a post today about a cool conversation I recently had with a friend on an interesting math topic, until I realized it just wouldn’t work. It’s not that the concepts were out of anyone’s grasp — the ideas we were discussing were all very simple and logical and beautiful, and certainly not beyond the reach of anyone who reads this blog.
It was rather that the only way to discuss those ideas would require the notation of math. And I am all too acutely aware that most people have a very unfriendly relationship with mathematical notation. If you write something like ex, or x + iy, most people will start to panic, and promptly set about finding somewhere else to be.
The ideas that these expressions represent are not at all difficult, but somehow the very fact that it’s “math” stops people dead — you end up discussing not the ideas, but rather the wall of incomprehension surrounding the way those ideas are expressed.
It’s a shame, because mathematical ideas have the kind of immense beauty found in so few things — a glorious sunset or a great Shakespearean sonnet come to mind. But unless something changes radically, that beauty will likely remain, for most people, out of reach.