After many years, to cheer you up in these difficult times, another story in our corner “taxi and other stories”.
Meeting Michael H. at Rio
In my early years I used to guess how people looked by their names. I found it useful to associate an image to people but I always failed, when I finally met them they looked completely different, and then I usually changed the mental picture to the real image. In modern time people’s images are on the Internet. For example, I can see how my FB friends look based on their Facebook profile pictures.
In 2017 I was invited to the Brazilian Math colloquium in Rio and like the other speakers I stayed at the Everest hotel in Ipanema. I was there with my son Hagai, and before the event itself we spent a few days in near-by Peru. On the first day I met all other plenary speakers except one – Michael Hutchings – who was already my FB friend. And his FB profile picture looked like this
When I entered the elevator on my third day in Rio I saw a new face and I was pretty sure that this was Michael. He certainly looked like a mathematician. I was quite proud of my insight, and I wanted to surprise Michael with a funny introduction based on Michael’s Facebook profile picture.
“I suppose you do not carry a gun” I said.
Michael did not answer for a while, and then he answered “I think you are confusing me with somebody else”
Well, either Michael did not understand my subtle reference to his FB profile picture or, I gradually started thinking, was it possible that this person was not Michael Hutchings after all?
I decided to use the method of divide and conquer.
“Are you a m a t h e m a t i c i a n?” I asked
“No” the person replied, this time quickly. The elevator reached its destination and we both went in markedly different directions.
Later that day I met the real Michael Hutchings and to save you from similar misunderstandings, here is what Michael looks like.
From time to time I wonder what the other person thought about our conversation: “I suppose you do not carry a gun” – “I think you are confusing me with somebody else” – “Are you a m a t h e m a t i c i a n?” – “No” Did it make any sense to him? Did he change his views about mathematicians?