Mathematicians Playing with Space and Time

One thing I discovered at Gathering 4 Gardner is that mathematicians (not to mention magicians) really love playing with space and time.

I had barely gotten there when I met a Swiss person who is actually Japanese; and a Japanese person who is actually Irish.

To my knowledge, Neil is (probably) the only child who could both talk intelligently with Stephen Wolfram about cellular automata, and then go off to run and play with Wolfram’s young children. I met Erik Demaine, who started college at 12, and had his Ph.D. and a professorship at MIT at the age of 20. And on the other hand, I was truly shocked to find out (after the event) John Conway was a senior citizen because he neither looked nor acted anywhere near that age. It’s like he was doing a transverse Neil, but for all I know, many of the other mathematicians were doing it, too.

My favorite though had to be the Englishman who was actually Norwegian, who had a girlfriend in Holland, and in Hungary, and in Poland. Logic-puzzle master Ivan Moscovich was standing next to me, and we both mocked him, because that equation doesn’t work logically or linguistically. He tried to make it work by explaining that it was just a part-time girlfriend, and umfriends, and we just laughed. So he changed the subject, but I better warn you all–that dodgy mathematician’s probably already figured out how to make that puzzle work.

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