1
 

The Answer is 1

By: Zo Bakshi (School of Mathematics)
Competition Year: 2017
Votes (1) | Comments (0)
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A young man from India,
began his university degree,
he cherished the exploits of being a fresher,
yes sir,
vector spaces and too much beer,
initially filled him with glee.

But strangely one day, 
his Asian parents did but ask -
why in the pride of doing “Pure Mathematics" do you bask?
Do you want to be a teacher 
or a professor?
“No clue" he said
"I’ll let you know,
when my answer is better"

Through days and months,
this man was left confused. 
What was the meaning of the morphisms and proofs,
that he deduced and used?
Why all that chalk and talk?
Why study groups and metric spaces?
In some of those evening lectures,
there were only tears and confused faces!
And differentiable manifolds, what really is going on?
When they were explained to his sister,
all she did was yawn!

You see, insight is a wonderful thing
sometimes it can enlighten,
sometimes it can sting.
So, to get answers,
this young man met the legend Nigel Ray,
and the words he then heard
were going to, for life, stick and stay:

"You see young man, mathematicians
are just mere humans, not crazy magicians.
We don’t use wands and crazy spells,
produced by logic and thought, our results are truly swell.
What you gain from the blood, sweat and pain,
the exercises and the exams that cause your energy to drain,
all the problem sheets that of your life are the bane,
is an understanding of the vague.

Out of abstractions, sense you can make
In fact some axioms, 
and some theorems, 
have caused the Earth to shake!
Remember that last theorem by Fermat, 
we just wished he finished his damn proof for goodness sake!"

So there it was, life was clear,
the Indian man had no more fear,
no more bullying for being a nerd,
nothing studied ever again seemed ‘absurd'
functional abstractions will always be preferred,
in the cauldron of his thoughts,
daily genius stew would be stirred. 

He then marched on home,
to express this revelation,
proudly he shouted “dad, I have something to tell you
it is news that will shock the nation!
I have an understanding of the vague
and I can prove things now,
behold my new found super power,
to me, you and mum will bow!”

Sadly for our protagonist, his excitement
dropped his father’s tea.
The old man got up,
rolled up his news paper
and uttered
“There is a chance I am going to lose my temper,
what’s the probability?”

• Zoravar Bakshi, the man who realised the answer was 1.
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