Christine Björner’s words at the Stockholm Festive Combinatorics are now available to all our readers. What makes this moving and interesting, beyond the intimate context of the conference, is our (mathematician’s) struggle (and usually repeated failures) to explain to others what we are doing and why we are doing it.
The Golden Room and the Golden Mountain
I want to tell you a story about Anders. Actually two stories. The story of The Golden Room. And the story of The Golden Mountain.
I’ll begin with the Golden Room.
Once when I had seen Anders, night after night, week after week, working at his desk, totally immersed in a world of his own, I asked him this question: Can you explain to me what you are doing? And he answered: Christine, I have found the most beautiful room. The whole room is a mosaic of gold, dazzling in its splendour. What I am trying to do is make this room visible to others.
I am not a mathematician, but this metaphor gave me an insight into the magical world that all of you who have come to the Festive Combinatorics conference share. I want to honour today, in Anders, and all of you, not only your beautiful minds, but your intuition, your persistence, and your passion for truth.
A papyrus showing Queen Ankhes-Tut, wife of King Tut, with her husband in the golden room. The Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
Now I will tell you the second story. The story of The Golden Mountain.
The Golden Mountain is a rocky peninsula on an island in the Stockholm archipelago. Before I lived there I saw it in a vision. So I know that it belongs in the realm of the sacred and the magical. What I didn’t know was that someday it would be mine. And that it would be Anders who would unlock the door to this magical realm. Just like the Golden Room that he visits, the Golden Mountain for me is dazzling in its simplicity. And I don’t need any math theorems to show it to you. All I need is a boat, which Svante has so kindly arranged.
Thank you. I know how much these past three days have meant to Anders. I know that I speak for both of us when I say that you are very welcome to join us on the deck of our little cottage on Golden Mountain for afternoon coffee and tea.
La Torre del Oro – The Golden Tower in Sevilla