Category Archives: Honouring friends

“You hit the jackpot!”

That’s what I am told lately, over and over again. That the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) has hit the jackpot, because the man who has just accepted to chair its Board of Directors is no ordinary man. To have … Continue reading

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Canada’s Mathematical “Dream Team”

Back on July 2nd, I received a report that four members of Canada’s International Math Olympiad team were stuck for more than an hour in the elevator, while training at the Banff International Research Station. Well, it doesn’t look like this time … Continue reading

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Joram Lindenstrauss 1936-2012

“I am very sad to tell you that my father Joram died this morning, the 29th of April, in his home”, wrote Elon. I knew that Joram had been seriously ill for some time now, but the cryptic email brought more … Continue reading

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A close encounter of the classy kind with Preston Manning

The place: The Doug Mitchell Hockey arena at UBC. The occasion: The University of Alberta Bears vs. the UBC Thunderbirds. Why? It’s great hockey and for a fraction of the price of Canucks tickets. The instigators: Ed and Karen Perkins, my friends … Continue reading

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Timothy Gowers: A leader for our times

Timothy Gowers is much more than an outstanding mathematician. A Fields medalist, Tim is a global thinker, an eloquent and prolific writer, a pioneer among scholars, and a leader. “Un grand homme”, the French would say. Tim is an innovator in scholarship and also … Continue reading

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Don Fraser, Officer of the Order of Canada

“There are too many of my students on the dance floor”. That was at a wedding party (mine!) more than twenty years ago, and Don Fraser was resisting efforts to make him dance. Many of the guests (on the dance … Continue reading

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A bottle of wine for the mathematicians!

The waitress suddenly interrupted our lively conversation. My discussions with Helmut -a fellow mathematician and a friend for more than 25 years, who looks like a cross between St John the Baptist and Attila the Hunt– are always loud, boisterous, … Continue reading

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Sleepless in Taiwan

I am in Taipei for a mathematics conference in celebration of the 60th birthday of a great colleague, a superior scholar, an enriching scientific collaborator, and a dear friend,  Chang-Shou Lin. What a treat it is to be here –notwithstanding … Continue reading

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The gentle giant … of Mathematics

Every mathematician knows that John Willard Milnor is the stuff of legend. But on March 30, 2003, I realized that the legend of John Milnor had spilled out, already a long time ago,  from our rarefied world community of research … Continue reading

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To the Board of Governors they bring maturity, wisdom, and gravitas

… And to me, they bring comfort and hope in our future as a society and as a country. Sean Heisler, Ben Glassco, and Azim Wazeer are currently the students’ elected representatives on UBC’s Board of Governors. Three remarkable young … Continue reading

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David Mumford receives the US National Medal of Science

Our friend and colleague David Mumford is among this year’s recipients of the US National Medals of Science. With Mathematics, “you can discover things (on your own) … You don’t have to get Ferdinand and Isabella to give you a … Continue reading

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Higgs Boson not confirmed yet, but Mathematics of salt is

Jonathan Borwein just sent me these priceless photos of the Halaman Ferguson structure “under construction”.

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The new poster boy of mathematics

Any one who has walked the streets of the Latin quarter in Paris knows about the special reverence with which the French treat their scholars. The streets carry the names of no other but Laplace, Fourier, Monge, Poincaré, Curie, Perrin, … Continue reading

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A Higgs boson concealed in your award!

In response to my post, “Buckling under the weight of an award”, David Brydges wrote, “Someone must have planted a Higgs Boson in your award! After all, particle physicists believe that it is the origin of mass.”

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How come we never talk enough about death?

I attended yesterday a memorial service for Virginia Greene (1944-2010). I didn’t know her  well. I had met her on the UBC Board of Governors that she joined about a year ago. She was already frail and suffering the effect … Continue reading

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Buckling under the weight of an award

Last Sunday, the Canadian Mathematical Society had a banquet in downtown Vancouver, where they officially gave out their annual prizes. I was honored to receive the David Borwein Distinguished Career Award.

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A President and a Scholar

I have always been puzzled by my own self: Principled, yet pragmatic; Old-fashioned liberal (or is it lefty?), yet at ease with the corporate types; Intellectual provocateur, yet deliberately respectful; Competitive, yet a consummate team player; Decisive, yet not a … Continue reading

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The astronaut and the mathematician

President Stephen Toope and his wife Paula Rosen hosted a lovely reception last night at their house in honor of Julie Payette and Louis Nirenberg, this year’s recipients of UBC’s honorary degrees. With her familiar gracious and humorous style, the … Continue reading

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A pillar of UBC zoology passes away

David R. Jones, UBC Professor Emeritus,  Member, Order of Canada (2003), Distinguished Scholar, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC (2002),  Flavelle Medal, Royal Society of Canada (2000), Killam UBC Research Prize (1993),  Fry Medallist, Canadian Society of Zoologists, … Continue reading

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Physics Nobel catching up with Nobel for Peace

I thought I was the only one whining about our colleagues not getting the Nobel prize for Physics.Wrong! According to Naturenews, the Nobel prize committee did not do its homework before making the 2010 award for physics.

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