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21st Century Wiener

Norbert Wiener: The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - "The most direct reason for Wiener's fall to relative obscurity was the breakthrough of a young mathematician and engineer named Claude Shannon." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 11, 2014 - 12 comments

binding the andat

Closing in on the twin prime conjecture (Quanta) - "Just months after Zhang announced his result, Maynard has presented an independent proof that pushes the gap down to 600. A new Polymath project is in the planning stages, to try to combine the collaboration's techniques with Maynard's approach to push this bound even lower." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 1, 2013 - 16 comments

"the cult of these antique figures"

"Old Polymaths Never Die ...they just keep on publishing. Adrian Wooldridge explores the unstoppable legacies of Isaiah Berlin and Hugh Trevor-Roper." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 16, 2013 - 7 comments

Certainly not Hugh Hefner

Who Was Casanova? "Today, Casanova is so surrounded by myth that many people almost believe he was a fictional character. (Perhaps it’s hard to take seriously a man who has been portrayed by Tony Curtis, Donald Sutherland, Heath Ledger and even Vincent Price, in a Bob Hope comedy, Casanova’s Big Night [and many more].)" [more inside]
posted by Kirth Gerson on Mar 29, 2012 - 20 comments

The Space of Imagination

Dr. Dan Durda [bio; vita] is a veritable Renaissance Man, having hobbies that others would call careers; most notably, he is an accomplished astronomer, jet pilot, cave diver, and Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists.

Oh yeah, about that art stuff -- there's a lot [more inside]
posted by troll on Oct 1, 2011 - 5 comments

Nathan Myhrvold

Then, coming on six o'clock, Mr. Myhrvold, the former Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft and an inventor with hundreds of patents to his name, came in, wearing chef's whites, and ushered us into dinner. Boy, people eat early around here, I thought. Little did I know I would be eating non-stop for the next three hours. (previously: 1,2) [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Jun 28, 2011 - 31 comments

Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography

The Rehabilitation of Ernest Gellner - It is easy to imagine why Ernest Gellner would be one of the universally known figures in Anglophone intellectual life. A polymath whose work ranged across anthropology, history, philosophy, and sociology, his mind wrestled with an encyclopedia's worth of nagging questions about nationalism, modernity, civil society, imperialism, Islam, psychoanalysis, ethics and epistemology ... All of this, to repeat, should explain Gellner's monumental prominence – except for the fact that he has no such prominence. (via mr) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 25, 2010 - 7 comments

Are polymathy and general knowledge in decline?

Two articles from The Economist's Intelligent Life magazine about changes in knowledge production and acquisition, The Last Days of the Polymath by Edward Carr and Is Google Killing General Knowledge? by Brian Cathcart. The first deals with the implications of increasing specialization in all field of human activity and the second with whether people are not committing facts to memory because they are so easy to look up on the internet.
posted by Kattullus on Sep 28, 2009 - 62 comments

He laughed like an irresponsible foetus

Parts 1, 2, 3 of a 1959 interview with philosopher, mathematician and peace campaigner Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). Works and pictures online include Anti-suffragist Anxieties, Why I am not a Christian, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto against nuclear weapons and the book The Conquest of Happiness. Russell is also known for his pithy quotes, his teapot and was the subject of poem Mr Apollinax by T.S. Eliot.
posted by TheophileEscargot on Jun 8, 2009 - 59 comments

The World is Bound With Secret Knots

Athanasius Kircher was the 17th century's Jesuit version of the übergeek. His scholarly attentions were drawn to egyptology, astronomy, magnetism, languages, optics, music, geology, mathematics and many many other pursuits. The "dude of wonders" invented novel machines such as the mathematical organ and magnetic clock, established one of the first museums, published about 40 academic works (with beautiful accompanying illustrations) and was globally revered as one of his time's greatest intellectuals. He is also the main link in the Voynich manuscript mystery. [MI]
posted by peacay on Aug 7, 2005 - 12 comments

Cosima Rohilla Shalizi - Polymath & Ultimate Pantologist

Truly that is a miracle of wonder surpassing the tongues of the eloquent, and far beyond the most cunning speech to describe: the mind reels before it, and the intellect stands abashed

Ibn Hazm
The Dove's Necklace


Cosma Rohilla Shalizi, who contains universes: Notebooks, Pieces for the SFI Bulletin, The Bactra Review, Books and Other Texts I've Put on the Web, Poetry and not the worst links page I've ever seen. This is the worst home page ever, according to yankthechain. I'm very proud. He likes, among many others, Avram Davidson, Sappho, Jack Vance, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. Courage, garrulousness and the mob are on our side. What more do we want? Now, is that a tagline or what?
posted by y2karl on Mar 21, 2003 - 15 comments

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