This is the 100th post of this blog. As a very senior (translated as old) blogger here, I take the liberty of posting the 100th post. The honor should have gone to other people, most notably KKK, who wrote almost half of the blogs here. Anyone write, comment and read on this blog actually make significant contributions to the blog and we all hope that you can continue your contributions.
I am going to share an article written by Fields medalist John Milnor and I’d like to share an inspiring quote by him.
…..Many times major results are obtained by those who are not at all well known, or by people we may know but underestimate, so that we are completely surprised to find that they have accomplished so much. It is wonderful that no one has the power to turn such people off!
In below is the longer version.
……. This talk is about the past, but perhaps I should close by saying something with a bearing on the future, something about my philosophy of mathematics. What I love most about the study of mathematics is its anarchy! There is no mathematical czar who tells us what direction we must work in, what we must be doing. There are thousands of mathematicians all over the world each going in his or her own direction. Many are exploring the most popular or fashionable directions, but others work in strange or unfashionable directions. Perhaps many are going the wrong way, but cumulatively the many different directions, the many different approaches, mean that new and often unexpected things will be discovered. I like to picture the frontier of mathematics as a great ragged wall, with the unknown, the unsolved problems, to one side, and with thousands of mathematicians on the other side, each trying to nibble away at different parts of the problem using different approaches. Perhaps most of them don’t get very far, but every now and then one of them breaks through and opens a new area of understanding. Then perhaps another one makes another breakthrough and opens another new area. Sometimes these breakthroughs come together, so that we have different parts of mathematics merging, giving us wide new perspectives. Often the people who make these breakthroughs are those who are well known, those we expect to obtain good results; but not always. Many times major results are obtained by those who are not at all well known, or by people we may know but underestimate, so that we are completely surprised to find that they have accomplished so much. It is wonderful that no one has the power to turn such people off! Of course they can be discouraged, and often have to fight for recognition, but there are many universities, many places where one can do mathematical research, and no astronomical budget is required. Thus there is always hope that even people who have unpopular ideas will have a real chance to succeed.