why is it that the venn diagram of people who understand 3d rotation math and people who do not know how to explain things is a circle

ME: what's a quaternion?

NERD: it's a four-dimensional complex number of the form (a + bi + cj + dk) where a, b, c and d are real numbers and i^2 = j^2 = k^2 = ijk = -1!

ME: ok. i understand that. but don't people use these for 3d rotations?

NERD: yeah!

ME: how?

NERD:

NERD:

NERD: well, you see, they're very important to use for rotations because they prevent gimbal lock,

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@prophet_goddess *snicker* he doesn’t understand the three seashells.

@zensaiyuki mathematics is just an elaborate prank. when you get a phd they let you in on the fact that it's all nonsense.

@prophet_goddess that’s not entirely untrue. the idea of university being for anyone other than the ruling class is extremely recent, and so a good proportion of its trappings are just about teaching you basically rich people gang signs.

the fact that mathematics turned out to be useful for things other than than games for rich kids is kind of an accident.

@prophet_goddess a lot of topics could be made way more accessible, but they aren’t because they’re deliberately designed to use jargon and overcomplicated articulation to make you feel bad for not understanding. the making you feel like you don’t belong is the point.

@zensaiyuki there is perhaps no field more prone to this than economics.

@prophet_goddess I just remembered something amusing. quaternions had just been invented when Lewis Carrol got so angry about them he wrote a book called Alice in Wonderland about how ridiculous they sound.

@prophet_goddess all the stuff about drink this to get bigger eat this to get smaller, unbirthdays, mad teaparties, disappearing cat smiles… not psychadelic imagery, pure quaternian angst

@zensaiyuki @prophet_goddess accident that has been around for a while though. Governments started funding it when they discovered it was good for building better warships in the colonial era.

@bulkington @prophet_goddess from around 1550-1600 (john dee), the “trappings” of math had been evolving for about 400 years by that point (i am counting from fibbonacci’s principia) but of course this is all gross simplification. and math didn’t suddenly become liberated from the elite once it was proven useful. it kinda still hasn’t.

@bulkington @prophet_goddess and to be clear that’s a eurocentric perspective on history. maths in other places had quite a different trajectory

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