Stephen’s mathematics

I have always found it fascinating that some people perceive information in different forms.  Stephen, for example, inhabits his mathematics and approaches it as a visual art form.  He ‘sees’ complex equations as three-dimensional shapes, and believes that when looking at these models ‘in just the right light’ he can occasionally catch a glimpse of other dimensions, above the third.

Today we have been working in paper to build some of these three-dimensional representations of his mathematics.

Stephen 'sees' equations as three-dimensional shapes.

I shall leave you with a passage from the book…

As Stephen’s knowledge and abilities grew, he discovered that by visualising mathematical equations in the form of three-dimensional shapes, he could string together huge amounts of information and manipulate it in his mind’s eye.  At a young age he started to build models from paper to depict these equations and by his mid-teens had an enormous collection of them strung throughout the workshop.  The models were without doubt beautiful works of art – intricate interlocking curves, folded, compressed and expanded shapes, patterns of lines and solids, which intersected and enveloped each other.  To the untrained eye, they were indeed sculptures of dazzling complexity, but to Stephen, they were much more then just pure art.  For Stephen, his models were three-dimensional representations of the lubricant that freed his mind from the thick, engulfing syrup and let him push deeper into his thoughts and theories.  In exactly the right light, the models and their shadows combine – and if Stephen concentrated hard enough he was convinced that he could sometimes glimpse just the tiniest part, of the smallest edge, of another dimension.

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