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We mathematicians are all a bit crazy

ModusPonens

Well-known member
Jun 26, 2012
45
The title of this thread is a famous _ and apropriate _ quote about mathematicians. As per request it was changed so that this thread serves the purpose of sharing crazy mathematician's stories (observation: the apostrofe is before the s ;) )

I'm sure many of you heard this before, but I love this story. Here's how it's told:

Serge Lang was known to interrupt lectures with “Your notation sucks!”.

Mazur decided to play a prank on him: he made a T-shirt with “Your notation sucks” on it, and gave a lecture to an audience including Lang, intending to give the shirt to Lang as soon as he complained about the notation. Lang was silent, even though Mazur’s notation was deliberately bad. Eventually, Mazur said, “Let $\Xi$ be a complex number, and consider $\frac{\Xi}{\overline{\Xi}}$” . Finally, Lang said “Your notation sucks!”, and Mazur gave him the shirt.
 
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mathbalarka

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Mar 22, 2013
573
Re: The legend of the bad notation

Can't resist : (Rofl) [and rolled off the chair, eventually...]
 

Klaas van Aarsen

MHB Seeker
Staff member
Mar 5, 2012
8,793
Re: The legend of the bad notation

Can't resist : [and rolled off the chair, eventually...]
Reminds me of the time when explaining to a student that:
$$\lim_{x \to 0^+} \frac 8 x = \infty$$
His logical answer to this other question was:
$$\lim_{x \to 0^+} \frac 3 x = \omega$$
 

mathbalarka

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Mar 22, 2013
573
Re: The legend of the bad notation

G.H.Hardy once had to cross the Channel while a fierce storm was raging on. Hardy wrote a telegram before departure in which he claimed to have proven Riemann's hypothesis. When he arrived safely, he had to explain to his friends that he was just making a kind of insurance policy: he knew that God wouldn't let him die with such a huge discovery being lost.

[EDIT -- @ I like Serena : Haha!]
 

mathbalarka

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Mar 22, 2013
573
In a certain seminar, a lecture was held in which a very famous mathematician was giving a short talk on mathematics. After the lecture, another very famous person-a physicist-who was sitting in the first row, stood up and spoke, "Yes, it's all very true but physics would be only just a week behind compared to it is now". The mathematician stared at him for sometimes, frowned, and said "Exactly, and that'd be the week the God created the world".

The famous mathematician is none but Mark Kac, and the famous physicist ... well, there is only one man in the world who can say such cheeky things! :D
 
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Petrus

Well-known member
Feb 21, 2013
739
Re: The legend of the bad notation

Reminds me of the time when explaining to a student that:
$$\lim_{x \to 0^+} \frac 8 x = \infty$$
His logical answer to this other question was:
$$\lim_{x \to 0^+} \frac 3 x = \omega$$
A for the creativity:p

regards,
\(\displaystyle |\pi\rangle\)
 

ModusPonens

Well-known member
Jun 26, 2012
45
"The man who loved only numbers" is a gold mine for this topic. There's one story I particularly like, which reveals a bit of the relation that Paul Erdos and Rolnald Graham had:

Erdos and Graham had a competitive spirit, in an unusual way. Since Erdos was older and frail _ the opposite of Graham _ they made bets with advantage to Erdos. One of these bets was: Erdos bet that he Graham could not climb stairs at twice the speed of Erdos. So they went from floor 1 to floor 4. Erdos had the cronometer. When the two arrived at the top Graham asked, anxiously, what was the time. Erdos just said "Forget it!"
 

soroban

Well-known member
Feb 2, 2012
409

Why was the identity [tex]\sin2r \:=\:2\sin r[/tex] refused a loan?

He needed a [tex]\cos r.[/tex]
 

masters

Active member
Jan 30, 2012
13
IMG_25230805541472.jpeg
 

soroban

Well-known member
Feb 2, 2012
409

Brilliant, Masters!

Thank you!
 

DreamWeaver

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2013
337

Why was the identity [tex]\sin2r \:=\:2\sin r[/tex] refused a loan?

He needed a [tex]\cos r.[/tex]
And there was I - naively - thinking it's because it couldn't give a \(\displaystyle \text{Shi}_2(t)\).


NB.

\(\displaystyle \text{Shi}_2(t)=\int_0^t \frac{\sinh^{-1}x}{x}\,dx\)