Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

New links

Posted by alifinmath on February 10, 2008

I’ve added some new links to my blog. I’ll try to say a few words about them (in the course of time). I’ll start with Richard Borcherds’ blog.

Richard Borcherds is a Fields Medallist. I first met him at Cambridge in 1987, when he was on his way to Berkeley as an assistant professor (non-tenure-track). In 1990 and 1991, I used to run into him in the math and physics seminars jointly organised by Hawking and Atiyah (the math scene in London was so dismal I used to attend the Cambridge seminars). And he helped me in whatever modest fashion he could (I was a math grad student in those days). In those days he hadn’t yet landed a proper job and was merely in limbo as a post-doc fellow. But that was the time when he wrote the paper that would subsequently win him the Fields Medal in 1998 (he let me have the preprint back in 1990).

I found the company of such people (the Oxbridge elite) profoundly discouraging and humbling. I can never ever be on an equal footing with such people (though their exquisite manners would forbid them from pointing this out): two or more quantum leaps in intelligence are required for me to get into their orbit. Borcherds was reading books on algebraic topology and Lie groups at the age of twenty — books that I still cannot fathom. 

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