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The poetic mathematicians

ezhejiang.gov.cn|Updated: April 27, 2023


The statues of Su Buqing and Gu Chaohao. [Photo/66wz.com]

The Su Buqing-Gu Chaohao Memorial Hall at Wenzhou University was opened to the public recently, local media outlets reported.

Su Buqing was known for his ability to solve world problems and nurture mathematical talent, but few people know that he also loved literature and poetry. His writings left a unique emotional and artistic impression.

Russian mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya once said, "Without the soul of a poet, one cannot become a mathematician." So, how did they nurture poetic souls in a rational world?

Su is known as the "poet among mathematicians" and created nearly 500 poems in his lifetime. Feng Zikai, a renowned cartoonist, once commented on Su's poetry, "His taste is particularly pure."

On one occasion, Su attended a party at the Feng family and wrote a poem on a whim, "Hastily cups and plates are filled with joy, do not let the talk of rice and firewood bring sorrow. The spring breeze has already turned the grass green in front of the door, and we must endure the remaining cold and look ahead."

It may seem effortless, but Su's sensitivity to the things around him and mastery of language is evident. Feng loved this poem so much that he immediately copied and posted it in his home. "With Su's poetry, the sauce duck, sauce meat, preserved eggs, and peanuts on the table taste like wax," Feng said.

Perhaps it is the relationship between master and disciple that has infused Gu Chaohao, Su's prized student, with a great admiration for poetry.

Mathematics and poetry may seem like opposites, but they are both among the oldest discoveries of humanity. The balance maintained by both can perhaps reveal unprecedented order and beauty.

In the most rational explorations and solution-seeking, abundant emotions are undoubtedly the catalyst for approaching dreams. The poetic nature of mathematicians is precisely their most unique feature. As they gaze into the distance amidst the numbers and geometry, the stars and seas in their hearts gradually become clear.

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