A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there. — Charles Darwin
A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. — Alfréd Rényi
I’m not sure which of these definitions of a mathematician, both given at the Burn Reading Party (9th-11th November 2012), is correct, if either. I don’t drink coffee and I don’t think I’ve been looking for a cat…
What I do know is that mathematicians are great fun to be around, whether you’re playing table tennis (in my case running around the room after the ball), getting shamefully trashed at trivial pursuit or even just having a drink next to the fire. At the Burn, you can do all of these with a selection of 3rd and 4th year undergraduates, postgraduates and staff, some of whom have been going to the Burn for many years.
The Burn is an 18th century house used by many Scottish universities for similar academic retreats after it was gifted to Goodenough College in memory of the owners’ son after his death in 1944 aged just 21.
While at the Burn, there are lots of exciting activities you can take part in: Mount Keen, the most easterly Munro, is situated nearby; there are tennis courts at the back of the house; a croquet set; a games room with darts, table tennis and pool; but most importantly there is a well-stocked bar, a hot fire and plenty of board games.
Somehow, in between all of this, they even manage to fit in a bit of maths. Whether it’s VERY large numbers, fractal music or any of the many other things that you wouldn’t ever come across in a lecture — or were too busy sleeping to notice — you’ll learn a lot, maybe climb a Munro, and have more fun than you would think possible on a weekend away with a bunch of mathematicians!
Hope to see you there next year!
PS: The photos are taken from the Facebook group page for the reading party: there are more there if you’re interested! (DP)