Parker Glynn-Adey

The Quantum Gravity Topological Quantum Field Theory Blues by Scott Carter

Posted in Math by pgadey on 2019/05/24

Scott Carter has some poetry up on his website. He works on knotted surfaces, and I think this version is just great. Back in the day, I wanted to understand knotted surfaces and I remember looking at his work a bit.

I’ve been calculating
I said I’ve been calculating
calculating all night long
Got a quasi- triangular Hopf algebra
and I wrote down the coproduct wrong.

I’ve been integrating
integrating the whole day through
I said I’ve been integrating
integrating the whole day through
Got a Chern-Simons functional integral
and its convergent, too.

I’ve been writing down knot diagrams
converting them to braids
Using the Alexander isotopy
you know I’m not afraid
I’ve been
assigning modules
to each of these six strings
been doin’ it for weeks now
and I still don’t understand a thing.

I’ve got them old Quantum Gravity
Topological Quantum Field Theory Blues
I’ve got them old Quantum Gravity
Topological Quantum Field Theory Blues
And without NSF funding I think that you would, too.

As a complete and total aside, he has great material in his syllabi too. If you read the next bit out loud, it can start to sound a little bit like Wendell Berry (“How to Be a Poet“).

Just as in other aspects of human endeavors, mathematical excellence is achieved throughpractice. Even when you attempt homework and can’t work it, you are learning. An oldacquaintance of mine recently sent me a guitar lesson book that he wrote. I just startedworking on it. As of today, I have not achieved the excellence required in the first lesson.However, I am better today than I was yesterday, and if I continue to practice I will bebetter still tomorrow. Much to my family’s chagrin, I sound terrible now. By the end of thesemester, I hope to be better.

You too can get better by working mathematics programs. You may need to work severalhundred problems before you get good. You may be like me and need to work the sameproblem three or four times before you understand. This is natural and to be expected.Don’t give up early, and afford this class an ample amount of time for study. If you do so,you and I will get along great!

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