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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Amir Aczel, Popularizer 1950 - 2015

Back on Nov. 26, science/math writer Amir Aczel died at the age of 65, yet I could find almost no information about it on the Web... even 4 days later! (a couple of Twitterers, in-the-know, mentioned it, and his Wikipedia page was updated). A bit odd for an author of several popular books. At any rate, this week, the NY Times finally did publish an obit of his death (still not many details, though cancer is mentioned as the cause), and further oddly initially mis-stated Andrew Wiles' name as "Peter Wiles" (since, corrected) -- I tried to imagine what possible name mix-up might cause such an error, but couldn't come up with any candidates??? Just a small compendium of oddities.
 Aczel died in France; perhaps that country's current overwhelming focus on terrorism since mid-Nov. has something to do with the paucity of news about his passing -- I really have no idea why there has not been more coverage and obituaries for this loss, at a somewhat young-ish age, of an author of close to 20 books?
In any event, from the NY Times:

Aczel's books were not heavy reads, but they were nice little introductions to each topic he addressed, and I enjoyed several. Some of his more math-related volumes were:

"Fermat's Last Theorem"
"Finding Zero"
"The Mystery of the Aleph"
"The Artist and the Mathematician"

"A Strange Wilderness: The Lives of the Great Mathematicians"

Below is an interesting talk (~1 hr.) Aczel gave at Google on his book "Finding Zero":

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