It’s a World Party, and we’re all invited

Feeling bored, and not quite ready for work after the long Easter weekend? Well fear not, for I have just the day for you – today, 3 April, is World Party Day!

Irrespective of gender, race, religion or political persuasion, April 3rd is your call for participation in a worldwide celebration of peace and happiness.(© All Rights Reserved)
Irrespective of gender, race, religion or political persuasion, April 3rd is your call for participation in a worldwide celebration of peace and happiness.
(© All Rights Reserved)

This day, also known as “P-Day”, is described by Wikipedia as a “synchronised global mass celebration of a better world and the active creation of a desirable reality”. It was started in 1996, and the idea apparently first appeared in a novel by the American writer Vanna Bonta, called “Flight, a Quantum Fiction Novel”. In the book, there was a countdown to a synchronised worldwide celebration aimed at elevated social awareness, that was to take place on 3 April. This inspired readers to organise a real event in 1996. Thanks to the explosion of mass interpersonal communication through social media etc, this has gained in popularity, with millions of people now taking part in organising party events around the world. Apparently one of the bigger of these internationally coordinated events is a so-called “hum-in” to be held at 15h00 Eastern Standard Time.

World Party Day has no religious or political alliances, celebrating the shared universal human right to having fun and living in peace. While the idea of creating a desired reality through shared awareness and synchronised celebration sounds a little airy-flairy and new-agey to me, I cannot fault the underlying desire for world peace and happiness, so I am all for it.

Enjoy the World Party, and may we all live to see better days, particularly those sadly still living in regions ravaged by violence and war.

Sophus Lie and the secret mathematical code

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the great names in mathematics, Norwegian Sophus Lie (17 Dec 1842 – 18 Feb 1899). Lie made fundamental contributions to the theories of algebraic invariants, continuous groups of transformations and differential equations. Two concepts, Lie groups and Lie algebras, have been named after him.

Beyond being a great mathematician, Lie was, for a short while, also mistakenly considered to be a great spy. He was in Paris during the outbreak of the 1870 French-German war, and decided to leave France for Italy. Before he made it to the Italian border, however, the French arrested him as a German spy.  Reason being, they found his mathematics notes, and thought these were secret, coded messages.

A stack of papers with weird notes and symbols - can you blame military security for thinking they just arrested a super spy!?(© All Rights Reserved)
A stack of papers with weird notes and symbols – can you blame military security for thinking they just arrested a super spy!?
(© All Rights Reserved)

It was only after the French mathematician, Gaston Darboux, intervened and confirmed that the notes was in fact legitimate mathematics, that Lie was released.

Based on this experience, Lie decided that perhaps it was safer to return home and continue his work in the Norwegian town of Christiania, where he had originally studied mathematics.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that if you plan on travelling through a war zone with your math notes, keep them plain and simple, or keep them very well hidden!