Left: key section of Scottish engineer William Rankine’s 1874 poem “The Mathematician in Love”, cited by Arthur Eddington in his 1938 The Philosophy of Science lecture, as an example of how, supposedly, it is “easy to introduce mathematical notation”, but difficult to “turn it into useful account”. [2] Right: an image (Ѻ) from a 2011 “Rhyme and Reason” New Scientist article, citing Rankine’s love poem. |

Date

The following is the abstract of the collected "songs" of Rankine, from the 1874 posthumously-published collected works set, of which "The Mathematician in Love" is listed first: [1]

“Those who enjoyed the personal intimacy of the late Professor Rankine—and the circle was not a narrow one—will, it is thought, be glad to have the means of recalling some of the songs which they can no longer hear from him, though his voice and manner lent a charm which the printed page cannot restore. Those who knew him from his graver works only, may be surprised, but it is hoped will not be disappointed, to find that a genius for philosophic research, which made his name known throughout the whole scientific world—and the labors of a life devoted chiefly to directing others, from the chair, and by the press, how to follow his steps—were not incompatible with the playful, genial spirit which brightens the following pages. The first of the Songs may be taken as the meeting point of science and humor:—the last possesses a melancholy interest, from having been written very shortly before his death, when failing health and eyesight seem to have revived a longing for the scenery and simple pleasures of his childhood.”

It would seem, therefore, approximately correct to estimate the writing of this poetry song to

Poem

The following is Rankine’s “The Mathematician in Love” poem, from his 1874

The equation for stanza six, according to Rankine, is the following:

I. A MATHEMATICIAN fell madly in love

With a lady, young, handsome, and charming:

By angles and ratios harmonic he strove

Her curves and proportions all faultless to prove.

As he scrawled hieroglyphics alarming.

|→ golden ratio

|→ waist-to-hip ratio

|→ Rosetta stoneII. He measured with care, from the ends of a base,

The arcs which her features subtended:

Then he framed transcendental equations, to trace

The flowing outlines of her figure and face,

And thought the result very splendid.

|→ symmetry, averagenessIII. He studied (since music has charms for the fair)

The theory of fiddles and whistles, —

Then composed, by acoustic equations, an air,

Which, when 'twas performed, made the lady's long hair

Stand on end, like a porcupine's bristles.IV. The lady loved dancing: — he therefore applied,

To the polka and waltz, an equation;

But when to rotate on his axis he tried,

His center of gravity swayed to one side,

And he fell, by the earth's gravitation.|→ Paul Dirac (on the puzzle of dancing) V. No doubts of the fate of his suit made him pause,

For he proved, to his own satisfaction,

That the fair one returned his affection; — “because,

“As every one knows, by mechanical laws,

“Re-action is equal to action.”

|→ third law of motion (laws of motion)VI. “Let xdenote beauty, —y, manners well-bred, —

“z, fortune, — (this last is essential), —

“LetLstand for love" — our philosopher said, —

“ThenLis a function ofx, y, andz,

“Of the kind which is known as potential.”

|→ potential energy, thermodynamic potential, human free energyVII. “Now integrate Lwith respect todt,

“(tstanding for time and persuasion);

“Then, between proper limits, 'tis easy to see,

“The definite integralMarriagemust be: —

“(A very concise demonstration).”VIII Said he — “If the wandering course of the moon

“By algebra can be predicted,

“The female affections must yield to it soon” —

— But the lady ran off with a dashing dragoon,

And left him amazed and afflicted.

The equation for stanza seven, according to Rankine, is the following:

(add discussion)

Eddington

In 1938, English astronomer Arthur Eddington, in his “The Philosophy of Physical Science”, Tarner Lecture series, delivered Easter term at Trinity College, Cambridge, being a general discussion of principles of philosophical thought associated with advances in physical science, developing the ideas contained in earlier titles such as

On this poem segment, Eddington seems dismissive, as though this were a trivial, meaningless, or void poetry diddy:

“At the start there is no essential difference between this example of mathematical notation, and theA,B,C, …,P,Q,R, …,X,Y,Z, …, that we have been discussing. We must find what it is that turns the latter into powerful calculus for scientific purposes, whereas the former has no practical outcome—as the poem goes onto related.”

Here, in this “no practical outcome” conclusion, we are reminded of Japanese chemical engineer Tominaga Keii’s 2004 chemical thermodynamics of reactions chapter section Chemical Affinity in 1806 wherein he, like Eddington, dismisses Goethe’s physical chemistry based

Zucker

In 1945, American physical historian Morris Zucker, in his

“This, of course, solves all ticklish problems, past, present and for the future, and all novelists, dramatists and Hollywood scenarists might as well begin right now to fold up their scenarios. However, candor compels the admission that this marvelous mathematical formula was put forth in 1874, but somehow has failed to catch on in spite of the long head start. Whatever success mathematics has achieved in physics, the application of its rigid formulae to the analysis of social phenomenamust fail, not only because social phenomena is not susceptible of such formulation, but because its laws can seldom be stated in mathematical language. Neither, for that matter, can that be done about the internal state of the simplest atom. But that does not prevent the physicist and the chemist form making predictions with absolute certainty in their respective fields, and the degree of that certainty is the measure of the successful organization of a particular inquiry.”

All of this is very odd indeed, being that Zucker seems to devote nearly the entirety of volume one, of this two-volume

These concluding remarks are very strange indeed, particularly coming from someone who has put so much effort into collecting and discussing all of the various “physical historian” points of view, and for someone who is attempting to formulate some type of Maxwell-Einstein like “field theory of history”? The only supposition offered here, with Zucker’s passing seemingly innocuous mentions of God, his Heisenberg uncertainty principle discussions, etc., is that he is some type of closet ontic opening theorist, i.e. attempting to formulate a "scientific" version of history, yet at the same retaining belief in free will, and hence some type of hidden agenda soul weight afterlife theory, or something along these lines.

Haynes

In 1994, Australian science and literature scholar

“In such accounts, mathematicians feature prominently as exemplars of thedehumanizationprocess. This is comically expressed in W.J.M Rankine’s poem ‘The Mathematician in Love’ (1874). The mathematician is mocked for his inability to related emotionally to the young lady, and his obsession with formulas is duly punished in the living world, where emotions rather than abstractions are the accepted currency.”

Here, Roslynn, not being a mathematician herself—her degrees being in biochemistry (BS) and literature (BA and MA)—falters in her take on Rankine’s poem.

Firstly, she thinks Rankine is mocking himself? This is incorrect. Correctly, Rankine wants to understand the process of falling in love as Newton understood the process of a body falling to the earth, via the force of gravity; and he wants to do so formulaically, i.e. with precision—but he cannot quite see the clear picture, hence he must take recourse to rhyme and poetry, which, according to Goethe, is a tool that helps one to work out frustration and or confusion in thought. Yet, he is prescient: one day the wandering course of male and female affections “must yield soon” to prediction, as has been shown in celestial mechanics.

Secondly, her jibe about how his “obsession with formulas” results in him being “duly punished” in the “living world”, as compared, supposedly, to the abstract world of mathematical physics, where “emotions” are the accepted currency, is off—Goethe explained the currency of emotions correctly in terms reaction of affinities (see: Goethe timeline, 1799) and at the abstractions of Cullen reaction diagrams; Rankine was but expanding and elaborating in this direction is precursory human chemical thermodynamics logic.

Thirdly, her idea that "mathematicians feature prominently as exemplars of the dehumanization process", this in the Rankine love poem example, is not the case. In fact, it is the exact opposite: Rankine above is working out the details of the "rehumanization process", namely that when belief systems behind the explanation human ideals begins to falter in logic, the passions begin to suffer, owing to misdirection, and thereby only through rehumanization process (clearly direction) can the passions again "come alive", so to say, in defunct terminology, in the source of social progress.

Lancashire

In 2003, Canadian poem collector Ian Lancashire, an English professor at the University of Toronto, posted the Rankine poem online, with a few analysis points or notes, labeled in a Stanza/Line citation method: [4]

S1:L3 – ratios harmonic: harmonic proportion, the relation of three quantities whose reciprocals (inverse relations) are in arithmetical progression.

S2:L7 – subtended: stretched underneath or opposite to.

S2:L8 – transcendental equations: ones resulting only in an infinite series.

S6:L30 – potential: something can be calculated; more amply defined as "a mathematical function or quantity by thedifferentiationof which the force at any point in space arising from any system of bodies, etc., can be expressed. In the case in which the system consists of separate masses, electrical charges, etc., this quantity is equal to the sum of these, each divided by its distance from the point" (OED "potential" 5).

S7:L31 – integrate: finding a definite integral (cf. line 34) i.e., the numeric difference between the values of a function's indefinite integral for two values of the independent variable.

(add discussion)

Copan

In 2005, American religion apologist

“Rankine’s‘The Mathematician in Love’reveals the absurdity of reducing all the knowledge to science and mathematical equations. There’s more to love than math and science.”

This religious belief system based objection, naturally enough, is followed by something about how “just as one scientific discipline can’t rule out theism, stacking them all up together can’t do so either”, followed by citation of

Mander

On 1 Feb 2013, Peter Mander, in his “Rankine on Entropy, Love and Marriage” (Ѻ), blogged on firstly on Rankine’s version of the new heat function, a variant of what Clausius would eventually call entropy, and secondly on Rankine’s circa 1845 “The Mathematician in Love”, about which he commented: “Rankine never found the time to test this theory in practice. He died a bachelor on Christmas Eve 1872, at the age of 52, of overwork.”

Hmolpedia | Thims

On 29 Nov 2013, Libb Thims discovered the Rankine love poem. One aspect, about the Rankine love poem, which comes to mind, is that knowing that this page is Hmolpedia article #3,086, started two days following the 29 Nov 2013 discovery of the Rankine poem, via the Zucker 1945 citation, which in turn cited the 1938 Eddington lecture, is the buried underground hiddenness of these types of suppositional arguments, i.e. that love or equivalently the passions can be quantified formulaically as a thermodynamic potential amenable to evolutionary psychology analysis.

In plain speak, it has taken American electrochemical engineer Thims 18-years, since his 1995 seeded reverse engineering puzzle, to dig this poem out of the matrix of buried and archived scientific knowledge; which can be compared to the 2006 discovery of Goethe's

Reviews

The following are news paper clipping reviews:

“Professor Rankine was a man of singularly genial spirit and fine intellect, which hardly found adequate expression, notwithstanding that the social instinct was strong in him. This volume of Songs and Fables will suffice to give a hint of the literary possibilities that were in him. There is ready humor, quaint wit, and rare felicity of expression. They are unlabouredjeux d'esprit ,but they are finished in their way, and often, in spite of the dash and freedom, show a very delicate point. The Songs are something after the style ofSongsfrom Maga, but are distinctly individual in note.‘The Mathematician in Love’is really excellent. The Fables are what they profess to be, genuine fables — but they are ruffled by a stir of real fun.”— Manchester Examiner (1874), review (Ѻ)

“The Editor of these Songs and Fables, by the eminent Glasgow professor of civil engineering, whom the scientific world still laments, fears that belief in a necessary incompatibility between philosophic research and playful humor will prejudice the public against them ; and if one of the objects of the publication was to show the fallacy of such a notion, it will possibly be carried out. . . . The cleverest and most ingenious song in the book is‘The Mathematician in Love’, of which the Editor scarcely speaks too strongly when he calls it the meeting point of science and humor . . . . The Fables are very short, but some of them are extremely amusing, and the clever illustrations by Mrs. Hugh Blackburn considerably increase the attractiveness of the work.”— Glasgow News (1874), review (Ѻ)

Other

The poem has a 6.2 out of 10 rating (12 votes) at PoemHunter.com (Ѻ).

See also

● The World Ways (Friedrich Schiller, 1795) | Freud-Schiller drive theory

● A Paradoxical Ode (James Maxwell, 1874)

● Mala Radhakrishnan

References

1. (a) Rankine, William. (1874). “The Mathematician in Love” (Ѻ),

(b) Rankine, William. (1908), “The Mathematician in Love”,

(c) Eddington, Arthur. (1938).

(d) Zucker, Morris. (1945).

2. (a) Eddington, Arthur. (1938).

(b) Tarner Lectures – Wikipedia.

3. Zucker, Morris. (1945).

4. (a) Rankine, William. (1874) “The Mathematician in Love” (analysis: Ian Lancashire), University of Toronto, 2003.

(b) Ian Lancashire (faculty) – University of Toronto.

5. (a) Copan, Paul. (2005).

(b) Paul Copan – Wikipedia.

6. Haynes, Roslynn. (1994).

Further reading

● Fadiman, Clifton. (1997).

● Gaither, Carl C. and Cavazos-Gaither, Alma E. (2012).