Nicholas Kroon presented the 24th Schonland Lecture in the Antony Clark Andrean Resource Centre on Wednesday 14 September 2016. This is a singular honour and a tribute to Nicholas’ extraordinary career in Mathematics over the past five years. The audience of staff, Rhodes University Academics, peers and newboys bore testimony to the esteem in which Nicholas is held – as a mentor and an inspiration to us all.
His topic was “Q.E.D. The Beauty of Mathematical Proofs.” He spoke most elegantly about how mathematical proofs are absolute and have survived since the ancient Greek schools of Philosophy two and a half thousand years ago. This is unlike scientific theories which are based on empirical data, and therefore are constantly in a state of improvement as the equipment that we invent becomes more refined.
His talk was summed up in the Bertrand Russell quote:
“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.”