The Golden Room and the Golden Mountain

 

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

 

 

Christine Björner

 

 

 

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.

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