There are four kinds of mathematicians in the world:
- Those who climb mountains;
- Those who play chess;
- Those who listen to music;
- and everyone else.
— Dr. X, Conference organizer.
He took me aside and said this to me at the coffee break. I was gulping milky sweet tea, and dunking cookies to spare my braces (yes, I have braces). “So,” he asked with a twinkle, “which one are you?” A chess player, I said. “Then you are a Russian at heart. All the best Russian mathematicians play chess.”
I had more tea with the Russians. They didn’t know what to make of a youngish female mathematician. They said I should come to Russia and study. They said Russian was difficult, but well worth the effort since so many beautiful theorems had been originally written in Russian.
Ah, the Russians:
On the conference side of things, much topology today:
- S. Bauer – On refined Seiberg – Witten invariants (and the “Jungle” of 4-Manifolds);
- T. Popelensky – Polytopes and K-theory: Generalization of Volodin K-Theory for Col-divisible polytopes. Volodin turns out to be isomorphic to Quillen.
M.Starostka – Infinite dimensional cohomology theory and the Conley index, and important results for the Floer boundary operator.
N. Waterstraat – A family index theorem for periodic Hamiltoniansystems and bifurcation; index bundles for self-adjoint Fredholm operators; bifurcation of periodic orbits.
Somewhere in there I had lunch with a French mathematician from Nice, and an Israeli: back at U Szwejka , since it was close and we were ravenous. They were serving the Monday special: wiener schnitzel the size of a human torso. The Frenchman told me that wiener schnitzel that large was referred to (accurately if inelegantly) as “Schnitzel die Größe eines wc-sitz!” — Schnitzel the size of a toilet seat! — yes, they really say that in Vienna. Knock one of these babies down with a liter of Warka, and you’re in Happyland:
Dinner found me knocking back half-liters of Warka at Piwiarnia Warka with three Germans, who spent quite some time educating me about what a superterrific guy Bismarck was. He sounds like a shrewd politician, at the very least. I’ll check out his biography when I get back to the island.
We also talked about normal, quiet things: picking mushrooms and berries in the summer, how awful Oktoberfest has become, what the kids and grandkids are up to these days (horse-farm, classical pianist, mathematician). The Germans are Hiking Mathematicians, class 1 from above. I’m very Colin Farrell about heights: “The view of what? The view of down here? I can see that from down here.”
Well, I am, as usual, full of good food, good beer, and engrossing conversation. Off to bed — another full day ahead.