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Eccentricity - June 1, 2011
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Spiked Math Comic - Eccentricity

Isaac Newton
Grigori Perelman
Norbert Wiener
David Hilbert
Joseph Fourier
Johann Lambert
Kurt Godel
Ted Kaczynski
Paul Erdos
John Nash
Georg Cantor

Quick, name 13 famous non-eccentric mathematicians!

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Have you made a list of the eccentric ones you know, or non-eccentric ones? I think the former.
And I don't think that the percentage is actually that low, especially for famous mathematicians. Actually, I don't think the percentage is that low for the average crowd.
See, if you consider a non-eccentric character to be defined by something like a mean of everybody's characters, most people themselves wouldn't land precisely on that mean. =)

So "Eccentric is normal."
... I wonder what Bertrand Russell would say about that?

Actually Perelman's name is Grigori (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigori_Perelman), Yakovlevich is his patronymic.

If the majority of mathematicians were eccentric, they wouldn't be eccentric at all.

harrumpf! It should be "Mathematicians who are eccentric."

You shouldn't personify mathematicians. Don't you know they're just machines for turning coffee into theorems? Honestly...

Yup! Plus I literally spent 2 minutes on the comic for today. Way too many other more important things that need to be done asap.

What can be more important than spiked math comics?

Ah, yes, the old "Crap, I'm too busy. Throw up a chart or graph!" save. Works well.

The public thinks most mathematicians are eccentric, but in fact many are surprisingly circular.

Or triangular in "Spiked Math" world

Ooooh! Bad pun! That smarts! I wish I'd thought of it!

I think I'll just have to leave an elliptical remark. . . .

Be careful, pun-making can become a conic disease.

Yes... And at peak bad-pun making, there's a risk you'll flatline (not to go off on a tangent or anything)

That's just a hyperbolic comment.

In reality, it's mathematicians who think that mathematicians are eccentric!

Candidate for non-eccenyric

Candidate for non-eccentric:
Omar Kayyam
Additional candidate for eccentric:
Charles Lutwidge Dodson

Andrew Wiles

Not-so-eccentric: Gauss, Laplace. Eccentric: Maxwell

If we're going to include borderline mathematicians (Maxwell), we can add Boltzman and Turing to the eccentric list.

Look up Babbage's anecdotes. Absolute classic mathmo. He tried to pass a bill banning street music and nearly drowned trying to run across the Cam with books on his feet.

1. me (girl)
2. my best friend (girl)
3. my cousin (guy)
4. that girl that also competes
5. the girl from eight grade
6. the guy from eight grade
7. that other girl from eight grade
8. my other cousin (girl)
9. my best friend (guy)
10. that asian guy from the front seat
11. the american dude that always wins
12. the other girl
13. my teacher (girl)

thats it 13 non eccentric mathematicians


I lol'd, also:

Holy crap, I was going to tell you to add Kaczynski, but I noticed you did include him just before I posted.

Anyway, if Perelman was eccentric for secretively solving a famous conjecture without letting anyone know he was even working on it, then so is Andrew Wiles.

I think the General Public's feeling is that anyone who wants to do math the rest of their life is almost by definition screwed up in the head, anf TBH, I don't think I can make much of a case that they're wrong.

I think Perelman is eccentric for not bothering to publish his proof, casually dismissing related rewards, and living with his mother.

IMO all that just makes him an amateur (in the good, "doing it for the love of the game" sense of the word) and a non-materialist (which I suppose would seem eccentric to americans).

Bourbaki doesn't count, due to lack of existence.

If lack of existence is not an eccentric trait, I don't know what is. Especially if it doesn't prevent you from writing books.

Bourbaki's lack of existence makes him eccentric, and therefore not qualified to make my list.

Also, there's only one Bourbaki, with a severe case of multiple personality disorder.

Oh, sorry, I'm getting confused with the eccentric and non-eccentric lists, blush.

Bourbaki existed, he's just dead.
With lots of posthumously written books.

And a lot of ghost-writers.

It takes ghost writing to a new level.

I thought that was already done. Like ghost jumping. Can they do that?

The graph shows that 100% of people are eccentric and only 2 to 3% are non eccentric .I think the graph has the right answer to all the questions

Sorry for strong ignorance, but ..how exactly were Hilbert, Wieer and Fourier eccentric?

Fourier believed that keeping the body wrapped up in blankets was beneficial to the health. He died in 1830 when in this state he tripped and fell down the stairs at his home.

I also read somewhere (I'm not fully confident about this) that Fourier believed that most diseases were caused by contact with the floor (Did he know about bacteria? I don't know). He wore extremely thick slippers, hoping he would not catch diseases.

Talk about eccentric.

Well to be fair, blankets keep you warm and are a suit of armor against many things. OTOH, they can carry disease and, oh right, make you trip and fall down the stairs and die.

And the floor *can* be pretty filthy.

Blankets have been used as vectors in biological warfare.

100% according to the public; and 4/255 (I think 1.5%?) real.

Non-eccentric Mathematicians:

Does irrational qualify as eccentric?

I think it counts as crazy. But aren't we all are?

What about Galois
No wait he was in that duel...

There are plenty of mathematicians about whom I've never heard any eccentric stories. But I tend to forget whom... There's not much to associate with their names, in many cases.
Though I don't think I heard anything strange about

But: it's hard to prove non-eccentricity.

I can't think of non-eccentric Math people.

How about Alpher and Gammow? They once added Bethe to a physics paper they wrote, just so the authors could be "Alpher, Bethe, Gammow".

Gammow added Bethe. Alpher was actually annoyed about that.

So true, I really like this little bit of humor too. My father is a math genius and is as eccentric as they come.


Shannon, father of Information Theory, invented the petrol driven pogo stick. Put him down as normal.

Also "Father of "Computer Chess".

He is called “Gödel”, not “Godel”.

Have you created a record of the unusual ones you know, or non-eccentric ones. I think the former.And I don't think that the amount is actually that low, especially for popular specialised mathematicians. Actually, I don't think the amount is that low for the normal audience.

Umm.. Georg Cantor was extremely eccentric. His work was often ridiculed by his peers. >>;

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