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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MacArthur Mathematician et.al.

(M. Chudnovsky via Wikipedia)

Not exactly synchrony but a recent bit of serendipity…

A couple days ago, bopping around the Web, I stumbled on a reference to Richard Preston's fascinating chapter from his 2008 book "Panic In Level 4" about the genius Chudnovsky brothers (Gregory and David) computing pi on a homemade computer in their Manhattan apartment (it's originally from a wonderful 1992 article Preston did for the New Yorker).
Such a great story I thought, even though a bit old, it might bear some ingredients for a blog post, and I went searching for my copy of Preston's book, only to find my own volume apparently dispatched to the used bookstore. I dropped the idea from my thoughts.

Then, the very next day, I looked over the names of the latest MacArthur Award winners… and there was one mathematician, 35-year-old "Maria Chudnovsky" among the lucky few -- hooray! gotta love seeing a mathematician get a MacArthur! (…frankly, I've not been too thrilled with some of the recipients in recent years :-(

Anyway, seemed like an odd coincidence to run into the "Chudnovsky" name twice in 2 days (perhaps though in Russian, "Chudnovsky" is like "Johnson" in America, I don't know ;-), so figured maybe a blogpost was in order after all (I've seen no mention of any connection between Maria and the brothers Gregory and David -- if someone knows of a relationship between them please inform us). Coincidentally, Gregory won a MacArthur himself back in 1981.

Anyways… here's part of the announcement from the MacArthur Foundation for Maria (including a nice video of her explaining some of her work):

http://www.macfound.org/fellows/862/

and another, brief older article on her as well:

http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2004-06/maria-chudnovsky

And below is a weblink to Preston's fine New Yorker piece on the brothers' pursuit of pi, still fascinating after all these years:

http://tinyurl.com/93kpj4l
(or, get pdf here: http://tinyurl.com/9ugo36d )

and here, a 10-min. NOVA video on them from PBS:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/chudnovsky-math.html



1 comment:

Truthseeker said...

This coincidence is quite suspicious. Chudnovsky is a rather rare surname in Russia and Ukraine. And with all respect to both Gregory and Maria Chudnovsky, their contribution to Mathematics is rather modest compared to such mathematical giants as Israel Gelfand, Andrew Wiles and others, who were awarded this prize in other years and compared to other great mathematicians who even were not considered for this award.