For the last 15 years the New York City subway has featured “Poetry in Motion”, which places extracts of poetry in subway cars. Starting next month this program will be expanded, joined by Train of Thought, which will add “short quotations in history, philosophy, literature, and science chosen by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.” I gather that my colleague Henry Pinkham, a mathematician now dean of the Graduate School, is responsible for this. Of the first two quotations to go up next month, one is dear to my heart, from Galileo:
The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. Its symbols are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures, without which it is impossible to understand a single word; without which there is only a vain wandering through a dark labyrinth.