Abstract Confusions

Complexity is not a cause of confusion. It is a result of it.

Stray Dogs, Rigor Mortis & Mathematics

In one of the last October month’s outpour’s, we got an unlikely guest at our door step. When I first heard weak howling, I dismissed it to the sound of vicious wind, later it got intense and this time it is not faint, it is a miserable cry. When I checked the door, I found a week old dog pup. Shivering in the cold and rain, it curled itself to the door mat. I felt so pity of it, so got few old clothes and heaved at it for extra warmth. It was already mid night, I left it and slept.

What happened next day was surprise for me. Eager to see, whether the pup was still there, I opened to door to check. There were two dog pups, not one. The new one seemed to be elder to the old one by a day. But both of them were happy. Now, feeding one dog was fine, but two? It was no easy job. But we kept them feeding for quite some time.

Two pups

Two pups

After all, finding stray dogs at Chennai is like dumping into a wall if you blind fold yourself. But pups are something special. You love them for their acts and plays. And you get double happiness seeing two pups playing with each other.

The post is all about what happened after that!

Rigor Mortis

Two weeks passed by then, we could manage to get milk, curd and some left over food to feed the pups. They were happy and growing. One fine evening, when I returned from office, I found the younger one alone, howling with struck at the door step. I thought the poor guy might be frightened by some other bigger dogs. Have to learn to live with them, telling to myself, I opened the gate. There are strains of blood in the step and in verandah, some thing grave occurred. Where is the elder one, asking myself, I started searching in and around the home. I haven’t named them. So, I just shouted. The younger was still terror stricken and didn’t move a little. My doubts were confirmed once I saw life less blood strained body of the older pup.

It was a horrible sight. The dog was lying dead. I decided to burry it. After all, you fed it. So, I went inside, took a polythene cover and made it as a glove. Came outside and lifted the dead body of the dog. It was heavy, deterrent and rigid.

Hardening animal’s body after death is known as ‘rigor mortis’. It sets in once heart stops pumping blood and thus oxygen with it. Because of this, muscles start to de-compose, giving away lactic acid, the muscles in the joints become stiff, leading to the difficulty in moving the body. I was experiencing rigor mortis!

Rigor Mortis and Mathematics

Rigor mortis is a Latin word. The process of hardening something after it looses its life is crudely came to known as rigor mortis. Mathematicians already have experienced this in different form.

When Issac Newton invented calculus, Leibniz also claimed that he had invented calculus separately. There was a separate committee setup to investigate it and decide who invented calculus. Newton had his friends in this committee and it was not tough to guess who would have won the fight. The committee declared Newton as the original inventor of Calculus.

Leibniz never bothered this. What happened after this is the classical example of stealing one’s marriage in middle. He didn’t stop there. He made calculus more abstract. He introduced more mathematical notations and definitions. By doing so, he hijacked calculus from what was a physicist’s tool to a mathematician’s arsenal.

Only once, physicists won the game. After that, they never had the upper hand against mathematicians. Mathematicians one after one, introduced more abstractness to the treatment. By doing so, they sucked the life out of math, which kept physicist happy once. Physicists were finding difficult to manipulate the dead body, very much like how I found difficult to move the dead dog.

Rigorous Math

In 19th centaury, practice of physics and mathematics became more contrast. 20th centaury was less helpful. Mathematicians like Gauss, Karl Weierstrass, Godfrey H Hardy, Littlewood and Betrand Russel sought rigor after rigor in the mathematical proofs.

In particular, Weierstrass demanded for more abstractness. For him, physics is applied mathematics. All he has to do is to develop abstract theories with or without any practical applications. Hardy once said, he never minded whether any thing can be applied from his mathematical achievements. For him pure mathematics is an angel and applied mathematics is evil. That was after the demonic effect of World War II.

Things haven’t changed much then. Mathematicians keep pressing for more abstractness, the physical study became more diverse, rather than being interwoven.

Physicist understood that it is important to study abstract mathematical methods as they hold key to most of advances in physics.

And personally

I felt, how the rigor mortis sets in the dead body. When I lifted the dead dog, it was so hard and heavy. Devoid of life, it was rigid.

Mathematics is like that. It will be hard. It has become its nature. Perhaps we need understand how to deal with that.

Update: I gave the another pup to one of the children who came to me and asked for it. I am happy as the other one has a home now.

Your say


4 responses to “Stray Dogs, Rigor Mortis & Mathematics

  1. Ram September 15, 2009 at 12:44 AM

    I’m, so sorry, wonder how it died, and that too with blood stains all over?

    I just buried my beloved pet (Whitey) 2 days back, she was suffering from some ailment, and could not win over it. She passed away peacefully without my knowledge.

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