Sir Michael Atiyah. (b. 1929) British-Lebanese mathematician, widely considered one of the greatest geometers of the 20th century.
Sir Michael Atiyah offers the following
comments on our capacity to perceive, and its
relationship with geometry:
Our brains have been constructed in such a way
that they are extremely concerned with vision.
Vision, I understand from friends who work in
neurophysiology, uses up something like 80 or 90
percent of the cortex of the brain...
Understanding, and making sense of, the world
that we see is a very important part of our
evolution. Therefore spatial intuition or spatial
perception is an enormously powerful tool and
that is why geometry is actually such a powerful
part of mathematics - not only for things that are
obviously geometrical, but even for things that are
not. We try to put them into geometrical form
because that enables us to use our intuition. Our
intuition is our most powerful tool...
I think it is
very fundamental that the human mind has
evolved with this enormous capacity to absorb a
vast amount of information, by instantaneous
visual action, and mathematics takes that and