Tuesday, October 21, 2003

A beautiful mind?

I knew pure mathematicians were weird. I’ve known a couple. I am now sharing a house with two.

What follows may be a vague breach of trust, as none of my new flatmates know that I blog – but what the hell, it’s a good story.

One of my mathematician flatmates needs alarmingly little sleep. (I won’t bore the world whining about what sharing with five people is doing to my stupid sleep patterns that always demand that though I am the last to get to sleep I should also wake up the moment anyone anywhere in the house leaves their bed ... Oh, wait, I just did.) He can get by on apparently four hours a night – and is always cheerful.

Grinning cheerful.

And he’s always working. He’s probably doing as much work as the next three of us put together at present (we’re all in a prolonged “warm up” phase, always best to limber the brain up for a few weeks before straining it, I think), but he always seems relaxed.

I left him last night doing equations on the kitchen table.

Not literally - there was, when I left, an ample supply of paper between his blue fine-felt tipped pen and the tabletop.

This situation did not apparently last out the night.

When I got up to make coffee this morning, on emptying grinds from the stove-top percolator into the bin, I discovered a few cigarette ends and a big wodge of paper covered in finely written equations sitting atop the garbage.

It seems that must have been the last of the paper, because on looking up to the back door I noticed something a little odd.

Two glass panes were full of equations, neatly laid out in non-permanent blue felt-tip marker. On close examination, some of the numbers or symbols (it’s all Greek to me) had been rubbed out with a finger and replaced.

Jonathon Nash, eat your heart out.

It’s all fine by me, so long as I don’t come home to find the lounge-room walls covered in newspaper clippings with red-circled letters spelling out coded conspiratorial plans.

That’d be awful.

Putting anything on the walls is a breach of our lease.

Me and the other lawyer decided we liked the equations and that they can stay.

So far our cleaner hasn’t said anything.

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