The poetic in mathematics
Cissoids, conchoids and epitrochoids; keratoid and ramphoid cusps; acnodes, spinodes and crunodes; Cayleyanns, Hessians and Steinerians.
I have no idea what they all are, and of course it doesn’t matter from a mathematician’s point of view – they’ve waved farewell to the abstract world of algebra and been replaced with modern terms like
parabolas, ellipses, Cassini ovals, lemniscates, hyperbolas, cubic curves, affine space, cylindrical algebraic deomposition
I could go on.
The algebraists who coined these terms must have had an ear for the exotic.
I can picture one of them working away, late at night, in a study lit only by a single desk lamp. In a ‘eureka’ moment she discovers a new, strange algebraic creature, and spends the rest of the night thinking up an appropriate name for it,