I read book of prof. Michał Heller. He received award of Hugo Steinhaus for popularizing science. In his speech he mentioned Steinhaus in anecdote. In 1952 Secretary of PAN (Polish Academy of Science) demanded written justification for Steinhaus absence on inaugural meeting. He responded that he "justifies his absence by the fact that the present could not justify their presence" (Google translation). Using this sentence Heller tries to justify his presence in awarded for science popularizing. He claims that science for the development needs proper environment. It cannot develop aside without communicating to external world.

This role I see in Mathoverflow. Not many persons can read mathematical works. Even less can understand them :) Everybody can jump to Mathoverflow and read questions and answers. Have you considered this role of this portal ?

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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure what you mean here. Are the questions and answers here that much easier to read that math in other sources? $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Oct 9 '18 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ I am glad for your enthusiasm, but "popularizing" is not really how I view MO because the level is pretty high. (I'd think YouTube series like Numberphile, 3Blue1Brown, and Mathologer go much further in the popularizing direction.) I guess what we can hope for is that MO provides a congenial place to discuss mathematics for those already at the high level, something like a tea room where mathematics is discussed. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Oct 9 '18 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ This is not really a question, and certainly not a question about the functioning of mathoverflow (which is the purpose of meta). I have voted to close. $\endgroup$ – Andy Putman Oct 9 '18 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ @MarekMitros Whether to close I'll leave to others, but don't berate yourself over this. Enthusiasm is usually a good thing -- especially when combined with realistic expectations. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Oct 9 '18 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ We do not agree, but it is a question about MO... Even if badly formulated. It does not deserve to be closed. $\endgroup$ – András Bátkai Oct 10 '18 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ Of course popularization of mathematics is good, but not every good thing needs to be part of the role of this site. Indeed, a lot of the value of this site comes from the fact that it has a rather narrow focus. And for what it's worth, I second Tobias' comment: for me, the vast majority of MO questions/answers are completely impenetrable, and that's fine. $\endgroup$ – Noah Schweber Oct 11 '18 at 16:40

Short answer no.

Long answer: If MathOverflow should have any role, it is to start the process of popularization, and not to complete it. I see the process as multi stage, the first stage (or second) being to articulate the idea to a small group and undergo a process of making the articulation parse correctly and then convey some sense of meaning. One needs not only an idea to popularize, but an adequately expressed form of it, just to have something to work with.

Since making an idea accessible to many others is a lot of work, we do not ask our members to go beyond the second stage. I try to ask questions to clear up my understanding of a presentation, and this sometimes leads to a better presentation, but I do not ask for a royal road to understanding, as there are often subtleties that take time to convey.

Much as I would like MathOverflow to be a resource for a larger group, it is best at being a resource for a smaller group, and thus can be source material for ancillary efforts to spread knowledge.

Gerhard "Let Others Spread The Confusion" Paseman, 2018.10.09.

  • $\begingroup$ I do not find understanding here, so I will not be discussing any more. Just few thoughts. Even mathematicians need other human beings to share their thoughts or exchange ideas. Publishing of mathematical works is for the purpose the others read it. If no one reads it then there is no point for publishing. Second thing is that mathematicians should not be closed for external world. Prof. Heller is philosopher and physicist.I tried to present his ideas that science needs to communicate in order to develop. I tried to present it here-without success. Finally down-voting and closing questions has $\endgroup$ – Marek Mitros Oct 11 '18 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ ...has very bad psychological impact on author of the question. That is why maybe facebook does not have down voting. You can only "like" someone's entry there - as far as I know. I use FB only occasionally. Please consider removing down-voting. However I will not add this suggestion on meta, because for sure it will be closed or deleted by the authorities. $\endgroup$ – Marek Mitros Oct 11 '18 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ MathOverflow has by design a limited scope. Members of the community may pursue other projects outside the forum, but it is a question and answer forum, not a discussion forum or a blog or a wiki. If it were one of the latter, it would be harder to achieve the purpose of getting answers to specific questions. By limiting it to this primary function, MathOverflow has continued into the start of its tenth year. As I once did, I suspect you want to turn it into much more. This may risk the viability of the forum and community. Gerhard "Here To Answer, Not Discuss" Paseman, 2018.10.11. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Oct 11 '18 at 14:36

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