Years ago, I read a book by James Gleick about a new theory called “chaos.” Chaos was popularly explained by its application to weather theory in this simplistic statement: “A butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas.” My computer club, the Apple Corps of Dallas, is always a safe place to discuss new ideas and interests and so, I mentioned my reading to a member at the club. I didn’t know him but his name was Paul, and he was not only interested, but was studying chaos theory! I soon learned that Paul was a math student at the University of Texas at Dallas. He was also using an an advanced computer algebra program on his Mac to study and model math equations. A few weeks later Paul demonstrated to me a graphical model of a chaos equation he had created. Tongue in cheek, he said, “I thought I saw a butterfly!” I was so fascinated by Paul’s knowledge and passion that I wrote a story about our meeting for our club newsletter, the Applegram.
Paul completed his studies at UTD, and we have now been friends for about 15 years. Yes, Paul, is different—weird in a good sort of way. Why? Because his passion is math and physics and the world of cosmology—read: black holes and worm holes sort of stuff. (He is the only person I know who lives in this world, so its really my limited perspective that makes him weird.) However our vastly different interests are what make him such a fascinating friend. Besides, we are equally passionate about all things Apple!
Paul’s world is a lonely one because it’s hard to find peers; the famous ones live behind circles of lesser lights who act as gatekeepers. Still, Paul relishes studying in parallel with them, through their published works. The mathematical prose of a published paper can serve as a communications conduit of sorts. Paul can respond with his own original thoughts about their work, but its rare to sustain an on-going dialog. Yes, it is a mostly a private and lonely passion.
I always enjoy hearing about Paul’s labors and loves—and disappointments—in his private world of study that I barely comprehend. A friend like Paul broadens your world and strums your mind!
Ray Thompson – September 2017