Mathematician on TikTok gives example of how ‘insane’ high-level math can be: ‘[It] goes into its own universe’

·2-min read

A mathematician is blowing plenty of minds on TikTok, thanks to her example of just how confusing high-level math is.

The TikToker, named Ashley (@modernday_eratosthenes) has a graduate degree in mathematics and often uses her page to simplify complex scientific concepts — like aerodynamics and even time travel.

But in a recent viral video, she explained just how, even for people who understand those ideas, math can still get pretty tricky. As she explains, not even rocket scientists are exempt.

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“A quick anecdote on how insane math gets,” Ashley says in the clip. “All the people you who you think should know all that stuff, totally don’t.”

She goes on to talk about one of her friends, who worked as a director at SpaceX. One of his own friends, who was getting a graduate degree in mathematics, asked him to take a look at his thesis.

“So this was a guy who was very accustomed to being the smartest person in every room,” she adds.

However, when it came to proofreading the thesis, the SpaceX director had no clue. Ashley recalled their interaction as she watched him reading the formulas.

“He opens the first page and looks at me, and goes, ‘I don’t know what the f*** any of this means,'” she says of the exchange.

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Ashley adds the caveat that her friend did not come from a math background — he was originally a computer scientist — but, as she notes, he still had to use math heavily in his job.

“But that’s the thing, right?” she adds. “Math goes into its own universe, and the only other people who understand it are mathematicians.”

TikTok commenters were largely blown away by the story. Many were relieved to hear that math is hard for almost everyone — even rocket scientists.

“I have a stem degree, I can’t multiply or divide in my head,” one user confessed.

“I’m a programmer and people think we’re smart,” another added. “My tutor was a mathematician. He was a genius.”

“There is a big difference between engineering maths and theoretical maths,” another pointed out.

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