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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Yuri I. Manin Quotes

Yuri I. Manin
(16 Feb 1937 - )

Russian-German mathematician who has worked in several fields of mathematics, most notably making contributions in algebraic geometry, non-commutative geometry, number theory, differential equations, and mathematical physics.

Science Quotes by Yuri I. Manin (8 quotes)

Mathematics associates new mental images with ... physical abstractions; these images are almost tangible to the trained mind but are far removed from those that are given directly by life and physical experience. For example, a mathematician represents the motion of planets of the solar system by a flow line of an incompressible fluid in a 54-dimensional phase space, whose volume is given by the Liouville measure
— Yuri I. Manin
Mathematics and Physics (1981), Foreward. Reprinted in Mathematics as Metaphor: Selected Essays of Yuri I. Manin (2007), 90.
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One can argue that mathematics is a human activity deeply rooted in reality, and permanently returning to reality. From counting on one’s fingers to moon-landing to Google, we are doing mathematics in order to understand, create, and handle things, … Mathematicians are thus more or less responsible actors of human history, like Archimedes helping to defend Syracuse (and to save a local tyrant), Alan Turing cryptanalyzing Marshal Rommel’s intercepted military dispatches to Berlin, or John von Neumann suggesting high altitude detonation as an efficient tactic of bombing.
— Yuri I. Manin
In 'Mathematical Knowledge: Internal, Social and Cultural Aspects', Mathematics As Metaphor: Selected Essays (2007), 3.
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Sometime in my early teens, I started feeling an inner urgency, ups and downs of excitement and frustration, caused by such unlikely occupations as reading Granville’s course of calculus ... I found this book in the attic of a friend’s apartment. Among other standard stuff, it contained the notorious epsilon-delta definition of continuous functions. After struggling with this definition for some time (it was the hot Crimean summer, and I was sitting in the shadow of a dusty apple tree), I got so angry that I dug a shallow grave for the book between the roots, buried it there, and left in disdain. Rain started in an hour. I ran back to the tree and exhumed the poor thing. Thus, I discovered that I loved it, regardless.
— Yuri I. Manin
'Mathematics as Profession and vocation', in V. Arnold et al. (eds.), Mathematics: Frontiers and Perspectives (2000), 153. Reprinted in Mathematics as Metaphor: Selected Essays of Yuri I. Manin (2007), 79.
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The computational formalism of mathematics is a thought process that is externalised to such a degree that for a time it becomes alien and is turned into a technological process. A mathematical concept is formed when this thought process, temporarily removed from its human vessel, is transplanted back into a human mold. To think ... means to calculate with critical awareness.
— Yuri I. Manin
Mathematics and Physics (1981), Foreward. Reprinted in Mathematics as Metaphor: Selected Essays of Yuri I. Manin (2007), 90.
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The ‘mad idea’ which will lie at the basis of a future fundamental physical theory will come from a realization that physical meaning has some mathematical form not previously associated with reality. From this point of view the problem of the ‘mad idea’ is the problem of choosing, not of generating, the right idea. One should not understand that too literally. In the 1960s it was said (in a certain connection) that the most important discovery of recent years in physics was the complex numbers. The author [Yuri Manin] has something like that in mind.
— Yuri I. Manin
Mathematics and Physics (1981), Foreward. Reprinted in Mathematics as Metaphor: Selected Essays of Yuri I. Manin (2007), 90.
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There is a noble vision of the great Castle of Mathematics, towering somewhere in the Platonic World of Ideas, which we humbly and devotedly discover (rather than invent). The greatest mathematicians manage to grasp outlines of the Grand Design, but even those to whom only a pattern on a small kitchen tile is revealed, can be blissfully happy. … Mathematics is a proto-text whose existence is only postulated but which nevertheless underlies all corrupted and fragmentary copies we are bound to deal with. The identity of the writer of this proto-text (or of the builder of the Castle) is anybody’s guess. …
— Yuri I. Manin
In 'Mathematical Knowledge: Internal, Social, and Cultural Aspects', Mathematics As Metaphor: Selected Essays (2007), 4.
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This property of human languages—their resistance to algorithmic processing— is perhaps the ultimate reason why only mathematics can furnish an adequate language for physics. It is not that we lack words for expressing all this E = mc˛ and ∫eiS(Φ)DΦ … stuff … , the point is that we still would not be able to do anything with these great discoveries if we had only words for them. … Miraculously, it turns out that even very high level abstractions can somehow reflect reality: knowledge of the world discovered by physicists can be expressed only in the language of mathematics.
— Yuri I. Manin
In 'Mathematical Knowledge: Internal, Social, And Cultural Aspects', Mathematics As Metaphor: Selected Essays (2007), 5.
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What binds us to space-time is our rest mass, which prevents us from flying at the speed of light, when time stops and space loses meaning. In a world of light there are neither points nor moments of time; beings woven from light would live “nowhere” and “nowhen”; only poetry and mathematics are capable of speaking meaningfully about such things.
— Yuri I. Manin
In 'Mathematics and Physics', collected in Mathematics as Metaphor: Selected Essays of Yuri I. Manin (2007), 130.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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