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My mathematical career ends
Wed, May 30, 2007 - 8:06 AM
Journal excerpt: 23 May, 2007. On the bus to Prague:
Yesterday I took an exam in Number Theory -- very probably the last math problems I'll ever solve as a student. The exam was tough at first; I was only able to solve three of the seven assigned problems. After working a bit more, I solved two more, leaving two left. I alternated working on them with little success for about twenty minutes before finally seeing a trick and solving one of them, leaving only the following problem unsolved:

Find all solutions for x and y over the integers:
x^(y^2 + y) = 7y^(x^3) + 6

The day before I had played around with x^y = y^x, and found only [2,4] as a non-trivial solution, but found no proof about other solutions. I hoped that such an elusive proof would shed light on the problem at hand, but I simply had no leads to work with. Most of the time in number theory when given such a problem, the goal is to show that either no solution exists, only a trivial solution exists. That is, say all variables are 0's or 1's, or in the case of x^y = y^x, the solution x = y always holds). Eventually I ran out of ideas, time, and motivation, and seeing no trivial solution, I simply wrote: "I do not think any solutions exist, but honestly, I have no idea how to show this." After writing this, I stood, walked to the front of the room, handed in my work, shook the professor's hand, and left. What a way to end a mathematical career: "... I have no idea..." No doubt, an appropriate end. A humble, admission of the expansive field of unexplored material that I now turn away from.

And it ends. Math is no longer a pursuit. Végallomás. Time to get off the train. But it isn't the végallomás [Hungarian for "end of the line"]. It is only so for me. The train tracks continue far beyond where my eyes can see. Every educated person must take the math at least some distance, but only a few decide to pursue their mathematical education beyond the city limits of High School. As I disembark, I find that this station is a lonely one. I am surrounded by all the wonderful and beautiful things I have learned, but from now on I must content myself with these or continue on by foot as I have time. But of course, I won't anytime soon. I see the tracks continue deep into the countryside. Enormous castles, majestic mountains, glistening seashores, and countless other natural wonders abound, many as of yet unexplored. I can see these things from here. I have seen pictures and read much about these forbidden destinations. Even as I gaze now, I know which sights I would travel to. The castle of number theory where a network of endless caverns and majestic halls await those who venture there. The Algebra mountains, for those nimble and strong enough to climb them a glorious view unmatched anywhere in mathland awaits. Indeed, I have played on the foothills and summited some of the lesser peaks. Twice, even.

But God has asked me to venture to different lands. I'm not sure why he gave me this train-ticket to mathland and lead me on this journey. Perhaps it was His way of providing me with a intellectual playground which may be a necessary and frequent escape through my life to satisfy my intellectual child-like frivolities. Who knows? Maybe I'll actually use some of this stuff someday.

I hold now in my hand a new train ticket. This one is one-way and will doubtlessly be a more demanding journey. I am not sad to change course. Somehow it is a relief to leave my first love and commit to that which has truly captured my heart. I stretch out my hands and they're being equipped to bring healing and peace to a sick and scared world. The world of medicine is real, and is filled with real people who are really sick, some of whom are really going to die. I will be God's instrument and He will no doubt save some of lives - and hopefully souls - through me in medicineland. If I were to turn back to mathland now, I would most assuredly be all alone -- that is not where God has called me, and to go there would be to turn away from Him. But, in the world of medicine I will never be alone. I will be surrounded by God's Spirit and brothers and sisters who answer His call there. It's a high-speed train to medicine land, and it departs from the University of Virginia station in just two months. So I need to start packing, because I will be spending the rest of my life on this journey. Somewhere in the bottom of my bag I'll tenderly tuck away this proof:

i think the feeling now maybe bittersweet .isn't it ?
Fri, Oct 26, 2007 - 4:01 am
Erik (SMD10)
Aaron, what can I say? I know, by this point, this blog post is old, but I just happened upon it. You put into words so perfectly what I came to see toward the end of my math career, namely that (to state it using imagery, something I am not wonderful at) as I journeyed deeper into the land that is mathematics, thought the sights were breathtaking and the trip exhilarating, there were no other people around. We humans were created to be in community and I realized that if I continued on the journey I would end up alone and isolated, surrounded by awesome sights, but with no one to share them with. So I, too, boarded a different train, and though I do sometimes cast longing glances over my shoulder, I do not regret my decision to head toward medicine. But the question you pose about why God had you/me begin our journey with math is an interesting one. I know I look forward to seeing Him reveal why!

Fri, Sep 28, 2007 - 2:49 pm
Yes, I was having a hard time keeping up with the few dozen or so spammed comments. I added a "human-check" feature, so hopefully that will take care of that.
Sun, Jun 24, 2007 - 6:25 pm
Great blog. It is a shame all those spammers filled with replies. I enjoyed reading about your last exam. Good for you!

Sat, Jun 23, 2007 - 6:31 pm
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A '56 Revolution Poem
Mon, May 14, 2007 - 12:40 PM
The following lines are adapted from my translation, my roomate's translation and another translation of a poem entitled: "Mennybol az angyal" or "Angel from Heaven" by Márai Sándor.

Those many people there do not understand,
what surged forth here like the sea.
Why did the world errupt?
A People cried, And then became silent.
But now many people ask: What happened?
Why didn't they die out as expected?
Why didn't they meekly accept their fate?
And evermore asked - stammered - beacause they utterly did not understand.
Why was the sky torn apart?
Because a people said, "Enough!"
They who were born free do not understand,
They do not understand how great a thing is freedom.

Hi! I'm from Budapest. This is my fav poem. I searching this poem since a few months. But I can't find the full English version. Could you send me that? Thank you! Rose.

Tue, Mar 11, 2008 - 6:36 am
I am extreamly happy I found you with this poem's translation! I'd like to ask you also, could you send to me the full translation of the poem? It's really important to me! I am waiting your answer! My e-mail address: betty.hunyadi@gmail.com
Sat, Dec 8, 2007 - 7:22 pm

Hi! Could you send me too the full translation?

Sun, Oct 14, 2007 - 10:49 am
Could you send me the full translation of the poem?
Thank you, Anna

Sat, Oct 13, 2007 - 12:02 pm
I definitely agree. How can we measure ourselves and our understanding of liberty against those who truly struggled, who truly fought? We know nothing of the pain, but we claim the title proudly. How selfish.
Thu, May 17, 2007 - 5:02 pm
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House of Terror
Sat, May 12, 2007 - 1:30 AM
[Journal excerpt. 11 May. 56 Express bus] I just visited the "house of terror" on Andrassy ut. Last night I watched "Szabadság Szerelem." Very moving. It's fitting that this bus is the 56. This museum is housed in the building used by the feared Nazi Secret police from 1941-1944, and again by the Communist Secret police from 1947-1989. Countless thousands were brutally tortured physically and psychologically there. I saw the very rooms and instruments of torture as they were used - even in my lifetime. Reading about, seeing pictures, and then watching a film on those who were bold enough to fight back -- not even with guns, per se - some even with an unfriendly word directed toward a "comrade" or Soviet ideals -- hearing about these people makes my blood boil with passion. I have come to know myself well enough to know that I am warrior. My emotional side is very strong and I could even be hot-headed at times. I would be among the first to join the revolution, and doubtlessly my passion would have gotten me killed early on. It seems that those who fight the hardest are most likely to be killed. Those edging for the front to get a shot off, are far more likely to be shot or caught than those who cautiously provide supportive measures in the back. At any rate, were I in Hungary 50 years go, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that mine would be among the thousands of faces and names of those who are celebrated collectively but forgotten individually. For the vast majority, their ultimate sacrifice was not glorious, it was a lucky hit from a Soviet soldier. From a purely strategic point of a view, a necessary statistic -- just a contribution of 1 to help meet the quota of lives required by expected value.

I would be among them.

What sacrifice is worth is my life? Surely my life has no greater value than those whose foolish bravery valued an impossible chance at freedom.

liz lowden
Aaron, Is this site still active?
Thu, May 22, 2008 - 7:09 am
Thank you for your challenging insights, Aaron. How does the wisdom of the Cross (and Jesus' Sacrifice) make sense to the rebel seeking freedom? And the "warrior" in each of us?

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (Ephesians 4:1)

Thu, Jul 5, 2007 - 1:01 pm
Sadly that is the case - that most are "celebrated collectively, but forgotten individually". But think of the impact of those individuals on the world around them at the time of their sacrifice. They were surely celebrated (however publicly or secretly), it is WE who have forgotten.
Thu, May 17, 2007 - 5:06 pm
Greta S
Wow, Aaron. That's a powerful question. And one worth asking. Our lives are not for throwing away, but neither are they for clinging too desperately to. Where will it lead you?
Sat, May 12, 2007 - 8:45 pm
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Finishing Up
Thu, May 10, 2007 - 11:10 AM
So, what does this say about my post-a-day attempt? My last non-VT-related post was entitled "Halfway." I've been wanting to update, but I've been battling the pressure to have a long post to make up for lost time, a task is too daunting for me to take on. Finally I realized that I should put something up, even if it doesn't chronicle the events of my last several weeks.

With only a little more than two weeks left, I've been getting out more and seeing more of Budapest. The "no rush, I'm here all semester" feeling is gone. The city is also much more pleasant than it was at the beginning. They really clean up for tourist season. Everything is now green, and it's quite lovely in places. I'm ready to go home, but I know as soon as I get there, I'll miss being here.

Yesterday I bought and watched a movie called "Szabadság Szerelem", which means "Freedom, love." I don't think it's been released in the US yet, but the international title is "Children of Glory." It's a new film; it was released October 23, the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian '56 revolution against the Soviets. Besides being violent, having rather vulgar language in places and a sex scene, it was pretty good. Not exactly a feel-good sort of Friday night movie. It was surreal to watch brutal historical events reenacted where they took place, and to know those places intimately. Actually the plot (which is basically historically accurate up to characters and timing of events) follows a typical Hollywood story, but then doesn't end right.

The Hungarian national water-polo team was preparing for the Olympics, but then the October 23rd revolution broke out just weeks before the Olympic games in Australia. After several days of fighting, the Soviets agreed to Hungarian terms, and withdrew from Hungary, allowing the water-polo player to attend the games. As the polo team left Hungary, they realized that the Soviets had lied about accepting the terms as they pass lines and lines of Soviet tanks returning to destroy the newly formed government and re-capture Hungary. As the Soviets began indiscriminately shooting at citizens and destroying building in Budapest, the Hungarian government sent calls for help to the Western World. Images and videos were broad-casted all over the world of the Soviets' inexcusible deception & violence. Confident that the American military would come to their aid, the freedom fighters determined to hold out the few necessary days before western allies could arrive to route the Soviets. Meanwhile, in Australia, the Polo team watched their nation was destroyed on television, and their hopes of international military aid were dashed as the allies' were clearly preoccupied with the Suez Canal crisis. While the final freedom fighters were killed or captured in Budapest, the undefeated Hungarian water polo team faced the USSR in the semifinal round in Australia. The whole world watched as the passion of a violent revolution was played out in a single match held. As predicted, the match was a physical one, but the Hungarians led the Soviets 4-0 going into the final minutes of the game, bolstered with overwhelming international support. Finally, with about a minute left, the Hungarian star of the team was punched in the face by a Soviet player, and emerged from the pool with blood streaming down his face. Outraged, the crowd poured out of the bleachers, and officials declared the Hungarians the winner to avoid a riot. The Hungarians went on to beat Yugoslavia in the final match and win the gold for their defeated nation. The film ends with freedom fighters in Budapest singing their national anthem in prison while the polo team receives their medals to the same.

Read about the Blood In the Water match on Wikipedia.

Kriszti from Budapest, Hungary
Hey Aaron!
I gotta tell you I'm pretty impressed. Not so many people take interest in Hungarian culture or history (not even Hungarians). But reading your blog I see that you are among those few who actually care and let it touch you.
Just wanted to let you know if you liked Szabadság Szerelem then you should watch Freedom's Fury (it should be available in the states since it's a co-production and the original language is English) which is a documentary movie about the same topic: the water polo match of 1956, the Blood in the Water match. It has the real facts. Szabadság Szerelem, however beautiful and touching is a bit twisted (for the sake of Hollywood :P). Not the freedom fight! Just the guy from the water polo team.
One more thing, I don't know if you were told but in prisons where freedom fighters were kept it was a tradition to sign the anthem or some patriotic song while taken to be hanged or shot.
I'll stop now :P. Sorry for the rambling and good luck with your further studies!

Mon, Sep 3, 2007 - 4:08 pm
Wow. That's powerful.
Fri, May 11, 2007 - 7:06 am
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Oh, Virginia...
Tue, Apr 17, 2007 - 3:49 AM
Virginia Tech, God is still on the throne. Blessed is He who gives us life out of death.

Yesterday I read about the shooting at 'Tech. Although I've never been there, I know several people who attend or teach there. I've been to Roanoke (main city close to Blacksburg) at least five or six times, and again know TONS of people from that area. No doubt this is horrifying and terrifying for both the (enormous) campus community, southern Virginia, and indeed the rest of the state. University of Virginia and Tech are somewhat of rivals, but I imagine that this fall UVA's students will be anything but bitter toward Tech. I wish I could be there now to--I don't know... To be there. To weep with those who weep. I'm quite sure I don't know any of the victims, but I'm Virginian enough to... feel like I do. if I recall correctly, UVA med students do their surgery rotation in Roanoke, and would be on the front lines as the scores of victim's poured into the state's trauma system. I want to help. I want to share the love of Christ to those who need it most. I want to offer my hand to someone who needs one to hold, and to cry with someone who needs to cry. But, God has me here doing His work in Budapest, and I will not be distracted by wishing I were in Virginia instead.

It's been forever since I posted; apparently the whole 'post a day' attempt has been thrown into the wind. But no matter. There's no pressing news from here -- Classes are going well, we had a spring break which involved a trip to Croatia and Slovenia and was awesome, and Budapest is spring-ing into life. It's very pleasant.

Provided by Ben Lansing

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At least halfway...
Thu, Mar 29, 2007 - 5:29 AM
I haven't been counting days or weeks; I'm barely aware of what month it is. However, I was aware that I had some midterms recently. That must mean that we're somewhere around mid-term. That must mean that my time here is half-over. Geez, it feels like I've been here for forever. I've quite forgotten the crisp winter air of home, the light breezes of Virgina's spring, and the chatter of English conversation. I haven't seen a chevy in forever, and almost forgot what peanut butter is. I don't really miss these things: I'm aware of their absense, but I really don't care at all. Hmmm, I guess perhaps I miss smelling something other than dog poo, but it's alright. This experience is pretty much everything is was cracked up to be. It's relaxing and intense; mathematical and cultural.

I do appreciate being sourrounded by other math nerds. We can use mathematical angologies up one side and down the other, hurl insults, make awesome puns, and speak strictly in the mathematical tounge and be perefectly understood, even better than if normal engish communication had been employed. It also gives rise to great running jokes like "Well, it's on the same order of magnitute as zero..." (Don't worry, if that didn't make any sense, then you're correct ;)

Spring break starts tomorrow. I'm headed to Croatia and Slovenia with my roommate, Robin, and two other friends, Jesse and Andrew. It should be fun, educational, and relaxing.

Greta S
Wow, Croatia! Be sure to put up pictures. I'm glad to read that you're doing well and communicating well with the mix of people around you. It sounds like you are good at putting down roots wherever you find yourself. Blessings!
Mon, Apr 9, 2007 - 3:03 pm
I love all your new(ish) pictures. It's so beautiful over there ... I'm jealous. Over here it is pretty as well, but in a much more Country Living sort of way. I miss the sharp contradiction of spring flowers against the blue gray reminders of communism and how the glorious and decrepit seem to thrive off of one another. Life and death, hope and despair, freedom and faithlessness. I love how the city is a metropolis glittering with irony and elegancy, where misery is disguised as paradox and sarcasm as bantering cordiality (as are most Eastern European urban areas). In a strange way I miss how opposite and backwards it is. And I find myself longing for those vast distinctions.
Wed, Apr 4, 2007 - 5:33 pm
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Sort of busy...
Tue, Mar 13, 2007 - 9:29 AM
Part of me feels like I should say "man, I've been so busy lately I haven't been able to get out and do anything good or interesting or touristy." However, I know that this is not the case. I have been busy, but I simply haven't been making the effort to go places. The weather has been absolutely wonderful (high 60s today), making a trip to someplace in town much more desirable. However, it is difficult to plan such a trip.

In general, I have been very relaxed about school this semester. None of these grades matter, so when the problems in Conjecture and Proof became insanely difficult, I dropped the class to audit. I can understand the solutions to the problems, I just never could have come up with them on my own. Auditing a class makes my life so much nicer. This morning I had my first exam, and it was pretty much stress-free. This is great! I LOVE stress-free school!

Like I mentioned previously, I am going to Salzburg and Vienna tomorrow, so I'm very excited about that trip. There should be lots of pictures and stories when I get back.

Ah, the faux sense of busyness. I think it has been taking captives worldwide. Indeed, I am just one of it's many victims. Hence the reason of my non-communication as of late. However, you have probably enjoyed a break from my constant yammering. Haha. I was going to post on your blurb about who's life is it anyway, but found that my response would be much to lengthy to actually put up and be respectable. Besides, it's more of a conversation than a lecture I believe.

I hope you're having fun and enjoying the combination of nice weather with stress free schooling, a mix few are lucky enough to achieve ... or receive. Whichever the case, I wish you well and hope to see more of your splendid thoughts here soon.

Tue, Mar 27, 2007 - 2:51 pm
Hey Aaron!
these pictures are great! I have been to a few of those places in Vienna, but it was 10 years ago, so I want to go back. Seeing those pictures make me want to go back even more so!

Wed, Mar 21, 2007 - 1:27 pm
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Long weekend!
Fri, Mar 9, 2007 - 2:33 AM
March 15th is a Hungarian national Holiday celebrating one of Hungary's several revolutions. This particular one occurred in 1848 and was aimed at the Habsburgs, the Austrian rule which then presided over much of Europe, including Hungary. It would be very much like our July 4th, however, America won the revolutionary war, the Hungarians didn't win their war for independence. There's a good article about it on wikipedia.

This year, March 15th falls on a Thursday. Since there is of course huge temptation to take Friday off, the Hungarian powers that be decided to make the Saturday previous to the weekend a national business day, and then make the 16th an official part of an extended weekend. Not a bad idea. However, that means that we have class tomorrow.

For my upcoming four-day weekend, I planned a trip to Austria. I'll be going by myself, and I'm rather excited about it. I'll be going to Vienna by bus, then getting on a train to Salzburg, and spending the next two days there. I'll then get back on a train and spend most of Saturday in a town called Amstetten, wandering around this smallish, Austrian town. I'll then get back on the train and head to Vienna where I'll spend Saturday night and Sunday, and then get back on the bus to head back to Budapest. I'm way excited :)

The most exciting trip I made by myself recently was to southwest Philly from home and back, which involved riding a train and a trolley. That was interesting to see on my itinerary, since I would be switching from train to trolley in center city and I was relatively positive that I've never actually seen a trolley in center city. Fortunately, such "trolleys" exist as subways in town and as trolleys out of town so I was able to successfully complete my trip. Plus I talked to someone who I shared a seat with on the train on the way home and was very glad to have done so. How was YOUR trip??
Mon, Apr 2, 2007 - 12:20 pm
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Who's life is it anyway?
Tue, Mar 6, 2007 - 1:09 AM
The last three days have been very sunny here. Most of the pictures I had seen of Eastern Europe also seemed to be grey and glum and gloomy, and I envisioned it as a place which was also overcast and glum. As it turns out, most of the time, this picture is rather accurate. However, not all of the time. Even Hungary has its sunny days.

Over the weekend I say people starting to put trash on the street. Not just regular house trash, but mostly old furniture and broken toys and tools and trinkets. As the trash accumulated, people would wander over to their neighbor's pile and poke around to see if they found anything useful or interesting. I figured (correctly, actually) that this was a spring-cleaning deal. However, the picture of people digging through trash in the streets really made me feel like this was a slum.

I've always been facinated with the day-to-day lives of normal people. I know my own day-to-day life pretty well, and the lives of most of the people around me. However, even in my own town of Eagle River, there are thousands of people I don't know who have lives that are unfamiliar to me, and I want to see and understand and experience these lives. This is why I love backroads, side-streets, subdivisions, and neighborhoods. I like to stop and watch kids play. In Eagle River, in Harrisonburg, as I drive through Pennsylvania, and wherever I go. Particularly in places that are unfamiliar to me. This weekend, I walked the streets of Újpest, earnstly trying to experiece the neihborhood and to experiece living here. Surely this is what EMU makes such a big deal out of, the "Cross-Cultural understanding" bit. But no huge life-changing realization or worldview-shifting paradigm shift came out of it. But, after some reflection I did realize that I am not going to experience what I want to experience. I am not from Újpest. I am a visitor. It is impossible for me to experience everyday life here as I see it going on around me. I have my own life to live, and it is not meant to be spent here (for longer than 4 months). I cannot live someone else' life.

Once I came to that conclusion, It was kind of relieving. I can enjoy my walks around the neighborhood and see the kids at play, but I no longer am striving to experiece something that isn't mine. Now, there's more food for thought. Most of Europe is well-dressed and fashonable, and this includes Budapest. However, there is still a solid half of the city which cannot afford such luxeries and confines itself to a more simple way of life, Újpest in particular. It's very easy to fit in clothes-wise. I wear an old jacket that isn't very flashy, boring looking jeans and a very plain shirt. I carry a dirty backpack, and wear old shoes. Until the moment I open my mouth, I look like every other hungarian who's just squeaking by, living forint to forint.

But I'm not. I am a very wealthy American who has degrees from a private unviersity, putting me in the most educated 30% in the US alone. Furthermore, I'm going to be going to medical school this fall, and am destined to become a member of one of the most affluent professions in the world's most wealthy nation. In these fleeting moments among these peers, what must I learn? If the people around me knew this about me, would they care? Would they feel betrayed? Would they feel "studied?"

I have no idea. And for the vast majority of them, they'll never know anyway.

aaron, since when are you grammatically incorrect? "who's"??
Mon, Apr 2, 2007 - 12:22 pm
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Actually Sick
Sat, Mar 3, 2007 - 1:29 AM
Thursday evening I went out to dinner with Joey, Vivian, and some others to celebrate Joey's birthday. I invited Andrew along, since he was interested in meeting people involved in ministry here in Hungary. We had a pleasant evening and every agreed that we should get together again and play games and get to know each other better sometime. As I headed home, I noticed that perhaps something at dinner didn't agree with me. The pasta was rather rich indeed.

The next morning I felt like things hadn't digested well, so I packed up the breakfast Klara (my hostess) and prepared for me planning on having it for lunch. I headed to complex functions, where I began to feel increasingly nauseated. After class, the nausea indeed came to fruition, after which I felt better. I skipped lunch, and did homework until Algebra, which lasted a painful two hours. I was again nauseated and several times I felt that I needed to excuse myself to the men's room across the hall, but I managed to hold off until the end of class. When the much awaited "and we'll have to pick up there next time" was given, I darted off to rid my stomach of its offending contents. However, finding that it had none, I headed home in a dizzy stupor, partly due to illness, partly due to abstract algebra.

By the time I arrived home, I had developed a splitting headache, which I attributed to dehydration, lack of caffeine, and general illness. Hydration seemed rather more important that caffination, so I had a little bit of water and then promptly went to bed and slept for three hours. When I awoke, I felt about the same, although my stomach was again rather upset. I headed back to the bathroom and was met with great success. Feeling encouraged by this, but unable to go back to sleep, I decided to pass the time by watching a movie. Robin was not at home, and I didn't expect him until much later. I brought my computer into the living room and put on the The Longest Day, a classic WWII film, and one of my all-time favorites. It did its duty by keeping my attention off of my headache and providing my brain with entertainment at little mental cost. Robin came back about the time the movie was over, and we both went to bed.

The next morning (which happens to be this morning as I write this) I felt much better. The headache was gone, and no nausea. I felt "full", which really surprised me since I was pretty sure that my total intake over the past 24 hours was a negative value. However, I braved a cup of broth, and when that seemed to settle, some potatoes and crackers, which Klara gave me upon hearing of my illness. I then spent the day relaxing, reading, doing a little math, and going on a rather long, pleasant walk. By the time evening came around, I felt quite the same again, and was willing eating anything.

It's a good thing I'm not worried about school this semester. Otherwise I'd be rather stressed.

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Aaron Trimble - webmaster@aarontrimble.com - Ph. 907.696.257 - 19430 Upper Skyline Dr. Eagle River, AK 99577 - Send me Stuff