mersenneforum.org  

Go Back   mersenneforum.org > Extra Stuff > Soap Box

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 2007-01-26, 21:56   #1
Xyzzy
 
Xyzzy's Avatar
 
"Mike"
Aug 2002

1E7E16 Posts
Default Math and drugs?

A quote from: The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth

Quote:
Like all of Erdos's friends, Graham was concerned about his drug-taking. In 1979, Graham bet Erdos $500 that he couldn't stop taking amphetamines for a month. Erdos accepted the challenge, and went cold turkey for thirty days. After Graham paid up--and wrote the $500 off as a business expense--Erdos said, "You've showed me I'm not an addict. But I didn't get any work done. I'd get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I'd have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You've set mathematics back a month." He promptly resumed taking pills, and mathematics was the better for it.
Any thoughts?
Xyzzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-26, 23:44   #2
ewmayer
2ω=0
 
ewmayer's Avatar
 
Sep 2002
República de California

231408 Posts
Default

Yeah, Erdo"s did like his uppers.

He, he, "crystal math."
ewmayer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-26, 23:53   #3
Spherical Cow
 
Spherical Cow's Avatar
 
Nov 2004

3·52·7 Posts
Default

That's discouraging. Does this mean there should be drug testing when major math prizes are awarded, such as the Fields Medal?

Norm
Spherical Cow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-27, 00:02   #4
Prime95
P90 years forever!
 
Prime95's Avatar
 
Aug 2002
Yeehaw, FL

11011111101102 Posts
Default

Why is that discouraging? If that's what worked for him, who are we to say it was wrong? It was his own personal choice.

Last fiddled with by Prime95 on 2007-01-27 at 01:57
Prime95 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-27, 00:07   #5
rogue
 
rogue's Avatar
 
"Mark"
Apr 2003
Between here and the

2·3,001 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
A quote from: The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth

Any thoughts?
The same quote is in My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos by Bruce Schechter. It's rather curious that both have the exact same quote from Erdos and were both published in 1998. They clearly had the same source for this quote.
rogue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-27, 00:17   #6
ewmayer
2ω=0
 
ewmayer's Avatar
 
Sep 2002
República de California

25·307 Posts
Default

Yeah, that Erdös, he was a real "crack mathematician." :D
ewmayer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-27, 00:32   #7
Spherical Cow
 
Spherical Cow's Avatar
 
Nov 2004

52510 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime95 View Post
Why is that discouraging? If that's what worked for him, who are we to sat it was wrong? It was his own personal choice.
I find it discouraging because, naïvely, I assume the drugs are controlled because they’re harmful if misused or over-used. (And I realize it’s a matter of degrees- most anything can be harmful to some degree. McDonald’s hamburgers are harmful if over-used, but they’re not controlled substances.)

If Erdos had a prescription for the drugs for some medical reason, then it’s not discouraging at all; he’s successfully managing a medical condition, apparently with the fringe benefit of a clearer thought process.

If the drugs were illegal, then in my mind, he joins Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire, and I lose a little respect for him.

Norm

(Although perhaps for mathematicians, a “level playing field” is a Mobius Strip…)
Spherical Cow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-27, 05:07   #8
paulunderwood
 
paulunderwood's Avatar
 
Sep 2002
Database er0rr

3,491 Posts
Default

Erdos said, "A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems."
paulunderwood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-27, 08:26   #9
S485122
 
S485122's Avatar
 
Sep 2006
Brussels, Belgium

5·11·29 Posts
Default

Drugs have been categorised in various fashions : legal versus illegal, hard versus soft...

The distinction between legal and illegal drugs is quite recent ; in the 19th century cocaine, opium, cannabis were all legal. One of the first banned drugs was Absinthe an alcoholic beverage with some herbs in it that was causing ravages in the working classes, then alcohol was banned in the USA, then cannabis was banned under pressure of the cotton lobby that wanted to get rid of the competition from hemp.

According to current medical science a drug is not harmful as such, it is the way it is used that is. Alcohol is one of the most potentially harmful drugs, but a lot of people have a more or less responsible consumption pattern.

I know a lot of students who studied for their exams with the help of amphetamines that if they did not take them for their exams they did not remember anything. If they did use them for the actual examination as well they did not have the problem. But anyway all things memorised under drugs were not easily recallable without. It must have worked in the same way for Erdös.

The current hype over sport and drugs or in this case intellectual achievements and drugs is going to extremes : a sportsperson cannot treat a common cold because ephedrine can make it impossible to detect some banned drug. On the other hand a lot sport persons go over the edge, they use dangerous substances (some leading to heart attacks, like EPO because of the thickening of the blood, others deregulating their hormonal equilibrium...) The problem is the pressure to achieve top performances. Even a lot of people practising sport as a holly only are using performance enhancing drugs. Top sport is bad for the health with or without drugs.
S485122 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-27, 13:25   #10
xilman
Bamboozled!
 
xilman's Avatar
 
"𒉺𒌌𒇷𒆷𒀭"
May 2003
Down not across

3·43·79 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by S485122 View Post
Drugs have been categorised in various fashions : legal versus illegal, hard versus soft...

The distinction between legal and illegal drugs is quite recent ; in the 19th century cocaine, opium, cannabis were all legal. One of the first banned drugs was Absinthe an alcoholic beverage with some herbs in it that was causing ravages in the working classes
Specifically wormwood, or Artemisia absinthium, contains a psychoactive substance which is a mild hallucinogen in some people, including myself, and gives vivid though not unpleasant dreams.

Absinthe has never been illegal in the UK, though it was quite hard to get hold of until fairly recently. The traditional green absinthe is now fairly easily available (I like La Fée and it is easy to find, though rather expensive at £20 per half-litre bottle (around $80/litre at current exchange rates)). La Fée is 68% alcohol. I picked up a couple of other varieties in Lanzarote last November. The blue one is 80% alcohol and the red one is 85%. Both were much cheaper, showing how much difference the Canaries' tax-free status makes compared with the relatively highly-taxed UK.


Paul

Last fiddled with by xilman on 2007-01-28 at 12:33 Reason: Corrected price comparison
xilman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2007-01-27, 23:43   #11
Jwb52z
 
Jwb52z's Avatar
 
Sep 2002

3·257 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by xilman View Post
Specifically wormwood, or Artemisia absinthium, contains a psychoactive substance which is a mild hallucinogen in some people, including myself, and gives vivid though not unpleasant dreams.

Absinthe has never been illegal in the UK, though it was quite hard to get hold of until fairly recently. The traditional green absinthe is now fairly easily available (I like La Fée and it is easy to find, though rather expensive at £20 per half-litre bottle (around $80 at current exchange rates)). La Fée is 68% alcohol. I picked up a couple of other varieties in Lanzarote last November. The blue one is 80% alcohol and the red one is 85%. Both were much cheaper, showing how much difference the Canaries' tax-free status makes compared with the relatively highly-taxed UK.

Paul
The last thing I remember reading about wormwood was that it made people go insane which is why countries banned absinthe. I'll look it up again, but I also remember reading that it was poisonous.
Jwb52z is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
I am so sorry for being bad at math. Aramis Wyler Math 40 2014-12-18 11:15
need some math help. swl551 Math 2 2014-02-20 16:33
Math JohnFullspeed Forum Feedback 1 2011-07-11 16:42
math help pls! DSC Miscellaneous Math 2 2005-09-11 04:53
help with math DSC Homework Help 13 2005-08-31 07:16

All times are UTC. The time now is 03:13.

Wed Nov 25 03:13:08 UTC 2020 up 76 days, 24 mins, 4 users, load averages: 1.60, 1.54, 1.41

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum has received and complied with 0 (zero) government requests for information.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
A copy of the license is included in the FAQ.