Math is forever: TEDx by Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón

Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón has done it this time — bring laughter and a new perspective to a commonly mundane and not well favored topic: mathematics.

Beginning with jokes about mathematicians like himself, he keeps the audience chuckling with his comments on the familiar and universal stereotypes of mathematicians and how ordinary people typically react to them. What amazes me is how well he can encapsulate the antipathy many have towards math, yet come across so charismatically… for a mathematician. I guess this is one of the key factors that keeps the entire audience attentively engaged throughout his 10-minute presentation.

Language barriers seem to be of no hindrance, not just because of the subtitles (thanks Ted!), but also because of Eduardo’s fluent and expressive body language. His hands are especially engaged in punctuating and accenting his speech. The way he gestures and the fluid attitudes of his posture help him to play the different characters that his seemingly laid-back and easy monologue invokes. Hence it doesn’t matter if he is speaking Spanish and I only understand English or Mandarin Chinese, his manner invites me to listen anyway.

And speaking of foreign languages, Truncated Octahedrons and the Weaire-€“Phelan structures are definitely not the things we are likely to be particularly interested in, especially when they are written about in thick and boring research papers. It definitely takes much time and ability to be able to understand them all, while Eduardo is done explaining it in 10 minutes. As Albert Einstein once said, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough”. A proficient mathematician, and a great teacher indeed.

Of greatest significance to me was when he said:

“So, if you want to tell someone that you will love them forever you can give them a diamond. But if you want to tell them that you’ll love them forever and ever, give them a theorem! But hang on a minute! You’ll have to prove it, so your love doesn’t remain a conjecture.”

Definitely a must-watch for those who are struggling with the demands of a stressful environment in school, or are learning math for no other reason than just because they have to.

Maybe, our love for learning can be a theorem too!

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