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  • Michael Curzan

Three Role Models


Three people whom I admire as role models are Rene Descartes, Danny Elfman, and Terry Pratchett. Rene Descartes is a famous mathematician who invented the coordinate plane in geometry and algebra and thus linked the two branches of mathematics, providing a way that an equation could be both written in symbols or expressed as a curve on a plane, and also providing a way that a geometric figure could be drawn as a shape or expressed as a series of equations to form its contours and edges. Needless to say, this crucial discovery led to the development of integration, and calculus in general, as that uses coordinates to represent functions as shapes, and that leads to questions of the area under a graph, or the slope of a curve, which can be answered by calculus methods that are derived from geometric formulas but are applied to algebraic expressions, further connecting the two fields of mathematics. But what I most admire about Rene Descartes is that he would stay in bed until noon, which I also like to do. In fact, he died from moving to a Nordic country where it was cold and there were long days and people got up at 5:00 in the morning because it was already light outside by then, and that was during the summer, and during the winter it only got light outside by late in the morning, which was fine for him, but probably the people still got up at 5:00 because it was a habit, and also in the winter it was absolutely cold, and Rene Descartes was actually required to get up as early as that because he was doing something like teaching the Queen of that country how to do math, so he had to always get up as early as she did, and she got up at 5:00 in the morning every day, and it was so hard on his old body, the cold and the sleep deprivation, that he died from it. That’s the trouble with living close to the north and south poles. I have had to wake up at 4:00 in order to catch a plane, and I know how hard that can be, which is why I can relate to Rene Descartes.


Danny Elfman does many things involving music. He has a band called Oingo Boingo, or at least he had, because they don’t play anymore or make new albums. He also writes music for movies. He is seriously all over the place. I want to be like that someday.


Finally we come to Terry Pratchett. He started his famous writing career as a newspaper journalist in merry old England, in one of those rural townships. He began writing short stories and publishing them in the newspaper in brief weekly installments. I want to do that to start my publishing career, too. He then turned one of those short stories into his first novel, The Carpet People. He then wrote some Science Fiction novels like The Dark Side of the Sun, as well as a trilogy of books based on another one of his short stories, which is called the Bromeliad Trilogy, although the name doesn’t make any sense until probably the third book, so it is often called the Nomes Trilogy. Then he began work on his main book series, the Discworld novels. He also wrote the very popular Good Omens book with Neil Gaimen. Near the end of his life, he wrote five Long Earth books with Stephen Baxter, which were based on another one of his short stories, The High Meggas. I admire him because of his great writing skills.

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