Fun with math

Emil Imrith laughs easily when he is asked about the stereotype we have for physicists: nerdy types in lab coats standing in front of a blackboard full of numbers and equations. “Nowadays, we have computers that help us to model and simulate,” he says. “But we do need a whiteboard 50 per cent of the time. I like whiteboards.”

Imrith owns and operates Technotrom, a company that designs electronics and software. He could do this anywhere in the world, but he came to the Yukon because he lov

es it here: “The life, the simplicity, the community, and the opportunity to meet all kinds of people — I was compelled by that.”

Imrith was an electronics and communications engineer in the Dominican Republic and will soon be accredited in Canada, and, he loves physics. He loves physics so much he wants to share it with Yukoners. So, Imrith has launched the Advanced Physics and Mathematics Study Group of the Yukon.

Anyone interested in physics — from working physicists to young people who like a challenge — can sit around the table and discuss topics such as partial differential equations, quantum mechanics, plasma physics, lasers, etc. “A round table,” Imrith points out, explaining this is in the spirit of open source technology. “Triangles don’t work well, with a president on top and treasurer and everyone else below,” he says. “It is too diffi cult to encourage creativity. “But a round table without that structure? There is openness.”

Different members will be asked to lead a discussion, introduce a problem to work on together, and put out some challenges.

The first meeting will be April 18, at 3:55 p.m., at the Whitehorse Public Library. It will kick off with an advanced topic because “I am afraid if I start with too simple, people won’t be interested,” says Imrith. “If it is too complicated for someone, they can just watch, ask questions, get inspired, and learn those things because we can immediately establish a road for them to understand. “If you are 50-years-old and you want to be a physicist, what is the problem?” Imrith asks. “Our society says it is impossible, it is too late. But it is never too late. “It’s like playing basketball: you have to practice, but you also have to have fun; if you don’t have fun, what’s the point? “When someone teaches biology, the process is fun. But when they teach math, it is about the result and we feel like we are being judged.”

Physics is all about creativity; that’s why an encouraging and fun environment is so important. “Albert Einstein used to say it is more important to have creativity than knowledge,” says Imrith. “Physics is an art that lets you interpret the world in a different way and open doors to a different realm of understanding of your self-consciousness and also the world.”

Art? “Oh!” Imrith exclaims (getting excited), “Once you observe a phenomenon and you try to describe that phenomenon in a mathematical model, you can understand it better. “Then you can modify it and you can imitate it and actually use it to develop any kind of technology. “If you want to invent something, physics is the foundation.”

Besides the creative side of physics, the new group will use computers for numerical analysis, “and we will be teaching how to use open source technology to resolve problems in physics,” Imrith says. “I love to learn, he adds. “That’s why I want to do this. “I want to teach what I know and, if I don’t know it, I want to learn it, too.”

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