A coffee with...

Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by Stephanie


Adam Rentsch

Position: Honours Student, La Trobe University.

How do you introduce yourself at parties?
If involving my close peers: “I’m not a physicist.”
Else: “Yes, mathematics. No not accounting.”

Why mathematics?
Putting aside the tedium of everyday arithmetic, mathematics really appealed to me as a set of logic and truths that have fascinating outcomes, all of which can be proven [or proven not to be provable…]. It really is just so beautiful. The deeper you go down the rabbit hole, the easier you can become amazed and aware at just how vast the topic is.

Do you think that mathematicians deserve the “geek” tag?
Perhaps a little less of the ‘geek’ tag, and a little more of the ‘eccentric’ label.
What area of mathematics and why?
My honours research introduced me to Integrable Systems, which stood out to me as a wonderful field that opens up to current research and developments. That, and everything seems to just naturally fall into place.

What has maths done for you lately?
Oh, nothing much more that govern the laws of the universe and every aspect of life, science and technology.

Do you have a favourite application or theory of maths?
From topology we have the Borsuk-Ulam theorem, which blows my mind every time I think about it. Try applying it to our world:

Take any two phenomenon that can be represented by continuous maps in two dimensional space (R2). Example: If we know the current temperature of a location, and the current barometric pressure at that same location. Then there is ALWAYS a pair of antipodal points — two points on a sphere are antipodal if they are separated by 180 degrees —  somewhere on the earth where the temperature is exactly the same AND the pressure is exactly the same.
We also take from this the corollary of the Ham Sandwich theorem



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