As this thread continues to spin off subthreads regarding explosives,
Alfred Nobel, Nobel prizes (and lack thereof for mathematics), and Nobel's
personal life I'm reminded of information floating around here in the
last few years, as follows:
Recently the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
moved into its permanent home building on the University of Toronto campus.
The institute is named after John Charles Fields (1863-1932: BA 1884 UofT,
PhD 1887 Johns Hopkins) who was a member of UofT's math department from
1902 until his death. Prof Fields is credited with the establishment of
the Fields Medal, sometimes referred to as the _Nobel Prize in Mathematics_
(Ref: _The Origins and History of the Fields Medal_, Henry S. Tropp,
Historia Mathematica, Vol.3, 1976).
This prestigious international gold medal award is made at International
Congresses of the International Mathematical Union. Fields' proposal was
made at the 1924 Congress in Toronto and the first awards were made
at the 1936 Congress in Oslo. Incidentally, it was Fields' express
desire that _There should not be attached to the award in any way the name
of any country, institution or person._, but Fields was dead by the time
final details had been worked out. The prize money is very modest when
compared to that of the Nobel prize.
While studying in Europe between 1892 and 1902 Fields became very good
friends with the distinguished Swedish mathematician Magnus G Mittag-Leffler.
Apparently there was personal conflict between Nobel and M.G.M-L. (The
story I've heard around here from my colleagues in the math department is
that the woman in whom Nobel was interested chose instead to marry a
mathematician, but I don't know whether he was M.G.M-L.; and Nobel
subsequently never married.)
Enough of that! Now where's my cribsheet for this evening's Ball?
-- Alex Collins
Civil Engineering, University of Toronto (firstname.lastname@example.org)