Questions tagged [anecdote]

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4 votes
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128 views

Is there existing footage of Stanislaw Mazur giving Per Enflo a live goose for solving the approximation problem?

There is a famous incident in the history of mathematics involving the mathematician Per Enflo being awarded a live goose by Stanislaw Mazur for solving problem 153 in the Scottish Book by ...
James Hanson's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
86 views

Darwin and the Natives of Tierra del Fuego

Darwin and the ship Beagle, as well as every other ship entering the Pacific ocean had to sail through the treacherous waters of the Land of Fire at the tip of South America. Many ships didn't make ...
ray grant's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
243 views

Anecdote about a seemingly possible, but actually impossible task given to students

There is a story I often tell my students about tasks that seem possible but are actually impossible, but I can hardly remember the details, and I am hoping that someone here would remember. Here is ...
YBA's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
150 views

Who bet against the usefulness of matrix inversion – or is it a myth?

In my linear-algebra and numerics courses, I frequently heard an anecdote about some professor betting – literally, with money – that there would never be any application where computing the actual ...
Wrzlprmft's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
130 views

Stories about the consequences of statistical simplification?

I am currently preparing a presentation about the value of more complex (specically: non-Gaussian) statistical inference. I thought it might be interesting to start the presentation with a small real-...
J.Galt's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
298 views

Cosmic microwave background and "white dielectric"

Arno Allan Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson were awarded (one half of) the 1978 Nobel prize in Physics, "for their discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation", https://www....
Ivica Smolić's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
125 views

Reference Request: Comment about Contradictions Proof Method Related to John G. Thompson

I read in a PDF document where the author made a comment that it is “dangerous” to use indirect proof method/contradiction proof method (as far as I can remember, and of course I am paraphrasing) as ...
Michael's user avatar
  • 141
3 votes
2 answers
352 views

How long would it have taken Cole to multiply the factors of $M_{67}$ on a blackboard?

The famous anecdote of the 1903 announcement of the factorization of $2^{67}-1$ by Frank Nelson Cole has recently been discussed, for example in light of the announcement of another "twitter-sized" ...
Mark S's user avatar
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28 votes
5 answers
6k views

In a popular anecdote, who took 20 minutes to decide that a thing was obvious?

The joke is found on this comment chain on Reddit. One user told the joke: The version I heard is that Pauli was lecturing, and he said "this is obvious". A student raises his hand and says "sorry ...
Ooker's user avatar
  • 1,198