The Applicability of Mathematics as a
by Mark Steiner
CAMBRIDGE, MA. HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1998. viii + 215
PP. US$xx.xx, ISBN 0-674-04097-X (alk. paper)
REVIEWED BY RICHARD CONN HENRY
How large and how significant a problem dare you tackle in your research?
Astronomers (such as myself) have it easy: there are lots of easily
answerable questions to be asked, and, in addition, astronomy has produced
some big answers. Having your cake and eating it too! However, the
danger for astronomers is that it is all too easy to disappear into the endless
small tractable publishable questions.
Some career choices are for bolder people: philosophers and theologians
restrict themselves to big questions; questions so big, in fact, that they do not
yield the same kind of progressive advance on which less ambitious
investigators pride themselves. Or, at least, they have not so far.