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Monday, December 12, 2005

33. Norbert Wiener

From The Emerging Science Of Spontaneous Order by Steven Strogatz

Among scientists, Norbert Wiener will never be forgotten, for reasons both serious and silly. On the serious side, his name is enshrined in the terminology of advanced mathematics: Wiener process, Paley-Wiener theroem, Wiener-Hopf technique, and so on. A former child prodigy who received his PH.D. from Harvard at age 18. On the silly side, mathematicians love to tell stories about Wiener. He was so absentminded that when he and his family moved from Cambridge to Newton, his wife wrote out their new address and directions home from his office, knowing full well he would forget they had moved. Sure enough, Wiener used the note as scrap paper for some calculations, threw it away, and walked back to his old house. When he arrived, he realized he no longer lived there, so he stopped a little girl on the street and asked her if she knew where the Wieners had moved. She said, "Yes daddy, come with me."

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