Meeting Michael H. at Rio

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?

This entry was posted in Taxi-and-other-stories, What is Mathematics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Meeting Michael H. at Rio

  1. JSE says:

    This is a nice change of pace for Michael, who is more usually mistaken for “the guy from INXS”

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