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  • Constantina Alexander

Sparrows, imaginary arguments and solitude.

Not much time for blogging. A large maths exam is looming and I am knee deep in revision. I have just discovered I can sit for hours every day solving a range of problems and the more complex the more funner. But it's the mingy little simple things that catch me out, so more practice to reveal the pitfalls.

After reading The Strangest Man, on the life of mathemetician Paul Dirac, who would work all day and everyday just doing maths and having a break for a vigorous walk for one hour at lunch, I am beginning to see the allure. Doing maths fits in well with an eremitic life. My valley neighbours must think I do very little as all they see of me is a brief emergence to take hubby to work, the dog for a walk and possibly to go for some food once a week. The rest of the time I am ensconced with textbooks, exercise booklets, online tutorials and a brief spell on exercise bike in garden with my growing flock of sparrows listening to maths podcasts on imaginary numbers and how to find the argument.

I must have some very clever sparrows by now but they seem to like the Northern Irish woman on the podcasts as she has the kind of voice that makes you believe this is all very calm and straightforward. I believe it is too. I rise early for morning prayer and at present am working on two icons, one of Christ and one of the Annunciation to set me straight for the day. I feel maths is very like iconography. When I look back on my first year learning new concepts I saw it all through a fog of mystery and chaos but as the year has gone on and the techniques have become embedded, I am more fluent and at present I am just going over the finer details and sticking points. It is an evolving and building process. Writing an icon seems to have a similar rhythm.

I have also changed my degree profile to maths and physics rather than astronomy as I want to continue with the maths and its application in physics- astronomy comes into it at some point later. This has surprised me but once I made the switch I felt great joy and happiness. I have this wonderful and beneficient sense of Christ around me, ensuring I am following the path He has set out. One always thinks spiritual things are about following spiritual matters but I do not believe this is necessarily true. After all, how can we really know anything about spiritual matters? God knows all, we know nuffink!

Best to just enjoy the lovely things He sets in front of us and leave our heads to get on with working out the algebra.