Keeping it trivial

Some of his woodcuts are titled Puddle, Dolphins, and Metamorphosis. Though he did not have a significant mathematical background, he was fascinated by figures such as Necker Cubes that are contradictory. This artist usually made lithographs, including Still Life with Spherical Mirror, Relativity, and Drawing Hands. For ten points, name this 20th Century Dutch graphic artist whose pictures contained logical contradictions.

Research is a long and arduous process. Before you know it, close to a year has passed and you wander what you’ve been doing all this time! You started off with the goal of making a Contribution to the World’s Knowledge, but then you slowly realized that you didn’t even know the problem you wanted to address.

Over time you explore dead-ends and potential discoveries. The discoveries turn out to be very specific cases of much more general theories. On the other hand, the dead-ends are not-so-dead sometimes. You just trudge on. And finally, you realize that you have walked miles and miles to make a single step.

It’s amazing that even though we know it is improbable to make a momentous discovery, we carry on with it. It’s the constant hope and let down that can really wear someone out. When this happens to me, when I can’t sleep because I am not meeting those elusive and too lofty goals despite knowing they are too lofty, I just get back down to the basic trivialities of life.

Speaking of which, did you get 10 points? Trivia is a good way to go back down to earth. The answer was Maurits Cornelis Escher!

Relax, it’s a question of perspective
(Relativity by MC Escher – more at

Here are your bonus questions:

Identify the following television shows set primarily in the beautiful city of Seattle, FTPE.

[10] This long-running Cheers spin-off focused on the life of a pompous psychiatrist who lived with his former police officer father, Martin Crane.

[10] Set at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital, this medical drama stars Ellen Pompeo as the title character.

[10] Set at Woodrow Wilson High School, this teenage drama on ABC in the 04-05 season saw the acting debut of Kelly Osbourne and showed 13 episodes in the life of Dino, Jonathan, and Ben as based on an Allison Adler juvenile novel.

McGill has a very friendly Trivia Club if you want to try it next year. I highly recommend it – even if my best performance was answering about 5 questions out of 40! Trying out a new sport (or three like some graduate students I know have tried) is also a great way to change your mind and keep it real. Do something else and let go a little.

Even if you do make a huge discovery after this walk through the desert, you will probably end up on a question like the top one and that… is pretty trivial after all.


P.S. Highlight the following to get the answers: Frasier, Grey’s Anatomy and Life as we know it!

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