How to turn a damn into a heroine

I’ve used the letter X more often in Mathematics than in Portuguese … But I doubt a bee can learn how to write the letter X, even though it knows mathematics … since it helps other bees to build honeycomb hives that have a large area for a small perimeter, that is, where it fits a lot of honey and little wax is worn … of course, with the hexagonal shape … just like my earrings… that´s why I like math! … And I’ve always liked it? Shower thoughts.

Sometimes, not always. Always, many times. No confusion: I was a good student, until I became much better. I still remember, he was a teacher who put us in the right direction, especially in the way he stung our self-esteem, you asses. But he also placed us on a winged horse, gave him a strong spanking that took us to a fantastic symbolic world with numbers, formulas, thoughts and conclusions that made us believe we were princes and princesses, adventurers and discoverers of timeless truths. It was then that I became happy and that I began my journey, that I portrait in video, in small films with which I wish to inspire more daring adventurers. I also speak loudly, sometimes to an audience of people that I can even captivate with my joy and faith in the elements of this fantastic symbolic world, for many of them unknown and not very fascinating. If they knew that they do not need magic potions to create the spells of our world, such as computers, mobile phones, wireless networks, robots, and more, but logical and abstract mathematical reasoning supported by axioms, theorems, theories, patterns, deductions, intuitions, they wouldn’t think of me from another planet.

My difference lies in living in this world and trying with all my strength to understand it. Many live on this planet, which is as unknown to them as the universe, and so they fear even their own shadow. Not my case. I have a nice and elegant shade. This also creates confusion in some heads. Intelligence should not be associated with beauty. One more mistake due to ignorance: there is no greater beauty than a mathematical demonstration! As if it was a perfect rhyming poem or a harmonious and enchanting melody.

Today I woke up thinking about a problem. I read somewhere that I belong to Generation Y, that my mother is from Generation X and that I produce videos on Youtube for Generation Z. Well, I did not read it all, I inferred it, force of habit. The problem is that the ones who like my videos are the Generation X cynics, some Generation Y digital natives, and few Generation Z symbolics. What seems to me to be a paradox, as disconcerting as the Hilbert Hotel Paradox.

Since I have an infinite imagination, as my X-mami says, I will enter my own hotel – read my Youtube channel – and start analyzing my guests, market analysis in my office, that is, in my room with my partner, the Internet. XYZ reminds me the three-dimensional coordinate system invented by the great Descartes.

Like him, “cogito, ergo sum”, I think, therefore I am. And I think it’s a lot easier to use the precise coordinates of a point to locate it in space than to solve my problem: reach the generation Z, our children and adolescents, who breathe technology as we breathe air, which communicate through images and symbols, express emotions with emoji – cute “pictograms”! – which are multitasking and ecological.

The paradox lies in their relationship with today’s hieroglyphs. They perceive them better than anyone. Shouldn’t they be better able to understand the “enigmatic” writing of mathematics? And to understand me in my task as a digital influencer?

Which threw me into my dark room. I shut the door to the pessimisms of Generation X, in the person of my parents, leaving a gap just in case my brother, of the Generation Me, wished to give me some tip, and I researched online what I could about the youngest ones. I prepared myself for a centennial video, far from rules, but with a practical intelligence to solve a real-world problem: making math a heroine! Well, that’s hard … I decided to try first a heroine who became a mathematician.

I waited for likes. I got some, but from Generation X in particular. That is, I hadn’t reached my goal. Even so, I didn’t give up. I was idealizing, filming and editing the images I did in the bedroom, in the living room, at the pool, alone and with someone else, in the hope of getting my first attempt: to make mathematics a heroine. I remembered emoji in a night of stars. And the balance I was looking for. I would also promote my youtuber facet. Without forgetting what I wanted to encourage: the taste for mathematical challenges.

I was successful. The comments of people X, Y and Z were positive and funny, like “This, with so many Pis looks like a message in Morse code! Hihihi” Exactly, mathematics is a fun and universal language. I was getting further.

I remembered using another universal language in a motivational video. I left my comfort zone – the comfort of home, sweet home! – and I went through my city, Guimarães, the cradle of my nation.

In this city I discovered, from an early age, the mathematics that surrounds us, in geometric elements, in facades, in nooks and crannies. It would be fair to show it to the world, as I saw it, with exuberant logical patterns.

Generations X and Y seem to like it. Again, positive and encouraging comments from various parts of the globe. A dream revealed an idea: the z dimension of the Descartes system grows perpendicular to the plane defined by the x and y coordinates, and it only makes sense in the definition of three-dimensional space when conjugated and dependent on its abscissa and ordinate. Perhaps this is the deal: X and Y must support Z in the construction of mathematical knowledge, as in the construction of a three-dimensional figure in the Cartesian system of axes.

Mathematics is a science, based on ancient and recent knowledge and discoveries, alpha and omega of technological development. The Z-generation is technology-driven, grows following the lines drawn by its fingers and the symbols it touches on the Touch Screen at the speed of life. This idea motivates me to continue in search of my grail, which will not be holy, but wrapped in perfection. I will continue to use the most powerful weapon of man, intelligence. And to count on my heroine, as always: math. Even if generations continue to add dimensions, beyond time …

This text, where math is called a heroine, on purpose!, is dedicated to the greatest Mathgurl ever: Inês Guimarães.

Cristina Cidnay

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