Want to meet Erdos? Wait Here On Broadway.

Want to meet Erdos? Wait Here On Broadway.

I don't really know why, but this photo reminded of the eccentric Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos (1913-1996). Erdos published more papers than any other mathematician in history. He didn't care about possessions and donated his many awards to those in need. He lived his life as a vagabond, traveling to conferences and the homes of his colleagues all over the world. He would just show up at a colleague's home unannounced, and tell them: "my brain is open". He collaborated with more mathematicians than anyone else, and mathematicians began assigning each other an Erdos Number to describe the "collaborative distance" between themselves and Erdos. Those who co-wrote a paper with him got an Erdos Number of 1. Those who collaborated with #1 collaborators got an Erdos Number of 2... The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is the same idea applied to the movie industry.

Broadway, NYC is among the best known streets in the world. It was originally a Native American trail. If you wait long enough in a popular section of Broadway, I'm sure you'll end up seeing the most famous scientists, mathematicians and celebrities in the world...

Paul Erdos had his own vocabulary. Although he was an Atheist, he called God, the "Supreme Fascist" (SF). When he couldn't find his socks, or his passport, he accused SF of hiding them. He spoke of "The Book" where the most elegant mathematical proofs were written down. He called children "epsilons", women "bosses", and men "slaves". People who stopped doing math had "died", people who had died had "left", alcohol was "poison", people who married were "captured", people who had divorced were "liberated", and to give a mathematics lecture was to "preach"... Mathematicians would joke, "Want to meet Erdos? Just stay here and wait. He'll show up".

Song of the Day: The Phantom of the Opera - Andrew Lloyd Webber (1986)
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