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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Honoring Grothendieck...

We live in a day of extraordinary and over-riding science specialization....

H/T to Jordan Ellenberg for pointing to this post about an obituary for Alexander Grothendieck that was rejected by Nature -- a fascinating read, even if Nature didn't find it so for their obit. purposes. David Mumford, one of the authors, finds it "very depressing" that a STEM publication would judge this piece unsuitable for its readers, but I'd opt for a different view... namely, that Grothendieck was simply too far advanced beyond the minds that run (or read) generalist journals like Nature and Science (which are far from the bastions they once were, before such modern-day field-of-study specialization took hold):


Early on, the piece reads as follows:
"His unique skill was to eliminate all unnecessary hypotheses and burrow into an area so deeply that its inner patterns on the most abstract level revealed themselves -- and then, like a magician, show how the solution of old problems fell out in straightforward ways now that their real nature had been revealed. His strength and intensity were legendary. He worked long hours, transforming totally the field of algebraic geometry and its connections with algebraic number theory. He was considered by many the greatest mathematician of the 20th century."
Surely there is a far more appropriate (specialist) math journal out there that would love to run Mumford and John Tate's wonderful tribute piece for an appreciative audience....

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