I’m not going to spend this beautiful spring Sunday indoors but I did want to share this morning’s sudden realization. An all-math dream band is spontaneously and unconsciously taking shape in the media. When in 2008 I saw the musician Ryoji Ikeda drop to his knees in front of Jean-Pierre Serre and cry out “For me you are a rock star!” I thought it was sufficiently unusual to be tucked away in my memory for safekeeping. The moment was reported in Chapter 6 of MWA and would have been recorded for posterity if it had happened a year later, when I started carrying a cell phone at all times. Now, of course, we have billionaires turning mathematicians into rock stars at the rate of at least one per year, but the more valuable information is that in some cases we are learning just which mathematician is which rock star. More than three years ago, Telerama revealed that Cédric Villani was “the Lady Gaga of mathematics,” a fact duly reported last month in the New Yorker. And now it turns out that John Conway is Mick Jagger, all rolled up somehow with Archimedes, Salvador Dalí, and Richard Feynman.
That’s a good start, but somewhat unbalanced with two lead vocalists. Lady Gaga plays piano, like Villani, so we’re just two or three instruments short. The requirement seems to be that the mathematician has to be the subject or author of a recent book. You can learn a lot about Jordan Ellenberg on the internet — just to pick one likely candidate — but not what instrument he plays. Anonymous tips welcome.
(More information about the Shimura curves can be found at their blog.)