Science

Mathematicians Deserve To Be Honored – 05/01/2021 – Marcelo Viana

The most common way of honoring mathematicians is to name their greatest achievements: Fermat’s theorem, Poincaré’s conjecture, Riemann’s hypothesis, Gaussian distribution, Euler’s formula. It’s cool, but it’s limited. Fortunately, there are bigger differences.

Gauss’ picture adorned the 10 German marks until the advent of the euro, when the stamp ceased to circulate. As far as I know, only Euler is the target of this distinction in the 10-franc note. The French even have the image of Poincaré in commemorative coins, except that it’s not the mathematician Henri, but the politician Raymond, his cousin.

But we can’t complain about France: there are more than a hundred streets in Paris with the names of mathematicians. Hundred! Not all French: there is, for example, the German Emmy Noether and the Dutch Christiaan Huygens. One notable absence is Euclid, but the father of geometry is a street or street name in cities like Washington, Detroit, Philadelphia, Santa Monica, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Cleveland. And less than 20 km from Cleveland is the city of Euclid, Ohio.

São Paulo also appears very well in the photo: there are more than thirty mathematicians honored on their streets (Euclid is missing again). I don’t know of any example in Rio de Janeiro, but it must be misinformation. RJ’s honor will definitely be saved by little Itaocara, a town of 23,000 in northwest Rio de Janeiro, whose Praça da Matemática probably contains the only monument to the Queen of Science in the world.

And in your city, dear reader, is there a street named after a mathematician? Reply by email to viana.folhasp@gmail.com.

Abel and Newton call mountains on the island of Svalbard. Leibniz has been a chocolate brand since 1891. Descartes names two islands, Australia and Antarctica. Newton also has his island in Antarctica. Archimedes is a Disney cartoon character. There is an operating system called Turing and a font called Euler. Many craters on the moon have names such as Dirichlet, Chebyshev and Weierstrass. 50033 Perelman and 9999 Wiles are names of asteroids. The Fibonaccis were a rock band from Los Angeles in the 1980s.

The strangest award goes to Frenchman Cédric Villani, who won the Fields Medal in 2010 and is currently a member of the French Parliament. Known for his long hair and flashy clothes that make him look like a 19th century poet, Cédric always completes his outfit with a spider brooch on his chest. In recognition, he will name a new species of spider from 2020, Araniella villanii.

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