Friday, August 15, 2014

THE FIELDS MEDAL! THE FIELDS MEDAL!

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I titled my post THE FIELDS MEDAL! THE FIELDS MEDAL! because of the sequence in Good Will Hunting when Sean (Robin Williams) chastises his former college roommate, Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard), for pushing Will (Matt Damon) to be what Lambeau wants Will to be.


Lambeau: You're angry at me for doing what you could have done; but ask yourself, Sean. Ask yourself if you want Will to feel that way, if you want him to feel like a failure.
Sean: Oh, you arrogant shit! That's why I don't come to the goddamned reunions, 'cause I can't stand that look in your eye. Ya know, that condescending, embarrassed look. You think I'm a failure. I know who I am, and I'm proud of what I do. I was a conscientious choice, I didn't fuck up! And you and your cronies think I'm some sort of pity case. You and your kiss-ass chorus following you around going, "The Fields Medal! The Fields Medal!" Why are you still so fuckin' afraid of failure?

I can't remember if it's in Good Will Hunting or something that I read––maybe A Beautiful Mind––that The Fields Medal is described as the Nobel Prize for mathematics, only it's so much more important that it's only awarded every four years.

This week has been a hard one. Sad for many of us. But at least one cool thing happened: for the first time ever, a woman won The Fields Medal.



Maryam Mirzakahni, 37, is a professor at Stanford University. She grew up in Iran, so she is also the first Iranian to win The Fields.


I hoped The Hurricane would be the first woman to win The Fields Medal, but it's okay by me that Maryam Mirzakahni paved the way.

You kick mathematical ass, chicky baby. Congratulations.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

63 comments:

  1. Anyone who is good at Math has my respect, even if I don't believe in Math.

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    1. Doesn't Glinda tell Dorothy that she had the power to go home all along because all she had to do was believe? So Stephen, click your heels together three times––you're wearing your ruby slippers, right?––and say, There's no algebraic geometrician like The Hurricane. There's no algebraic geometrician like The Hurricane.

      And in four years, or maybe eight, you'll believe in math when you find out The Hurricane won The Fields Medal because math has to exist for her to win.

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  2. As you know, Janie, women are coming on strong in math and science in recent years. The Hurricane might not have been the first woman to claim the Fields Medal but I predict she will someday and that she won't be the last.

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  3. You know, continuing the theme, as crummy as the world is for many at the moment, it's a lot better for our daughters than when we began the champagne just about a hundred years ago.

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    1. It hasn't quite been a hundred years since women gained the right to vote. It's still very difficult to be a woman in a male-dominated field, but at least The Hurricane isn't alone.

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  4. I believe...I believe... I believe...!!

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    1. Click those heels together, fishducky!

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  5. I like it when Matt Damon's (janitor?) character solves the complicated formula on the chalk board. It's been a while . . . that did happen, right?

    Go Maryam!

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    1. Yes, that did happen. One aspect of the movie I love is that when Will does math problems, it seems magical.

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  6. Well, that's one thing I'll never win! My math skills are pretty horrible. At the store, we have to count the registers at opening and closing. I can say that I'm not the one who lost $100 and I'm not the one who got confused that the register having more money than the money said we made, means that the register was over. So at least I can function in the real life world...and use a calculator.

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    1. Nothing wrong with using a calculator. When I ask The Hurricane to do some simple math problem for me, she says, I don't remember how to do that anymore!

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  7. Basic math I am good at but that is about all

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  8. That's good to know that a woman finally won it. Too bad it wasn't The Hurricane. ;) But she has a lot of years left. :):)

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    1. The Hurricane is not in her place in the mathematical world that would allow her to win. She needs more time. But if she never wins it, she's still a huge success and will always be my baby.

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  9. Susie got it right...Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. But congrats to that lovely Math lady. Being an accountant by trade, math was always a big part of my life. It makes me a little structured, so need to climb out of the box to write!

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    1. Structure can be good for writing. It helps keep you on track.

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  10. I'm glad there are some people out there who like and are good at math, just writing that word gives me hives. Good for Maryam, hopefully that prize comes with a big cash prize.

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    1. It's not as much money as the Nobel, but she'll get some bucks.

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    2. Well well... The Green Pickster from Pickleopeland... Is he a regular visitor too, Janie? Does he like leggings, you think?

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  11. Cool post! I especially like how well you tied all the parts together.

    It's about damned time a female won. May she be the first of many, and may one of them be your Hurricane. (signed, a recovering math nerd)

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    1. You go, math nerd. It is about damned time a woman won.

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  12. I agree with Stephen. Anyone who is good at Math has my respect.

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    1. Although some people have learning disabilities that keep them from understanding math--just as some people have difficulties learning to read--I don't think that the only people who can learn math are those with a natural gift for it. I thought I wasn't good at math until I had a couple of teachers who understood how I learned. When The Hurricane tutored me for a math class, I got an A. The Hurricane and I speak the same language, even if she speaks French and I speak Spanish.

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  13. I got goosebumps - I'm looking at them now - reading this, Janie. Thank you for this burst of joyous news after such a trying week.

    Much love back to you,
    xoRobyn

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  14. I'm a Bear, for whom things rarely add up. I am in awe of anyone who is good in math. And of your delightful story today. I hope WDW was equally impressed with her work!

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. WDW wishes The Hurricane well, but they have never met.

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  15. Math dyscalculia is common. However, it is not the reason for so much math failure in the world. I taught a math anxiety class at a university. The women were in the 50s and 60s. Besides math, we discussed why they did not know how to some of the simplest math.

    Societal problems created little girls who cannot do math. Those little girls grow up crippled.

    *the girl is cute
    *the girl is allowed to cheat because she is cute
    *the girl's parent does not value her knowing math
    *girls don't have math skills
    *girls don't need math to have babies
    *girls are not encouraged to try harder
    *girls who do math well are just smarter (instead of trying hard)
    *people are impatient when trying to teach math to girls
    *people don't expect any sort of excellence from girls in math
    *"girls are good at words, not math
    *boys will feel bad if girls excel in math
    *girls should not make boys feel bad

    Girl's excellence in math falters with puberty because they want boys to like them. My son married a woman with an almost perfect SAT score. He took algebra three times in college before he finally passed. He was pleased she was so smart. Why would a man want a woman to be smart? Maybe to combine their genes and have smart children, or so that she could impart her knowledge to her children when they need help in school. My son is very smart and accomplished.

    I know enough math to teach high school algebra and geometry and a little trig. But, I had to overcome societal expectations and doubts about my ability to do so. I taught myself to do algebra and geometry and finally to do formulas! Yay for girls/females!

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    1. The Hurricane was the only girl in the highest level math class offered at her prep school. Other girls were capable of taking the class but chose not to do so because it was "hard." It can be a good thing to challenge oneself. The Hurricane's valedictory was about the importance of women stepping up and taking their places in math, science, and technology.

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  16. Congrats to Maryam! Now I want to watch Good Will Hunting again. I'm impressed The Hurricane is such a math whiz, and that she helped you get an A in your class!

    Julie

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  17. So cool. That's amazing! I'm one of those who isn't very good at math. I just don't have the aptitude for it...but I definitely made up for it in my love for reading!

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    1. Some people truly have difficulty learning math, but I think it's even more likely that you never had a teacher who could teach you.

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  18. Well it's about time a woman won The Fields Medal. Now all we need is for you to run for President. And I'm not kidding either. There are too many things women still need to do, which in most cases means finding a way to deal with sexism and discrimination. I grew up among women and have been asking myself for 44 years: who needs men anyway? There. I said it.

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    1. I need men. Especially Willy Dunne Wooters and Favorite Young Man. I even needed X once upon a time so I could produce The Hurricane and FYM. I think it's a little late for me to start my political career, and I'm not willing to wear pants suits. I doubt if I'd get elected wearing leggings and a tank top.

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    2. Leggings... You've got my vote not to mention my blessings.

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    3. No need to thank me. Leggings often look good on a woman. I'm not sure of they would look good on me, though. Maybe if I wore my cowboy hat... no, let's not even go there.

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    4. You'd look adorable in leggings. I have a pair in blue.

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  19. I think The Hurricane should have her face on The Fields Metal.

    This was a great post, and Maryam Mirzakahni deserved this medal and MORE, I'll wager. What an accomplishment for a young woman who began her life in Iran!

    Janie, you rock. I give you the Cherdo Out Standing In Her Field medal.

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    1. Why, thank you, and yes, The Hurricane's face should be immortalized in some fashion, but I'm thinking Mount Rushmore.

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  20. Dear Janie, the movie "Good Will Hunting" made me ponder exactly who I am within and for myself. We must resist letting a medal or an award or even another person define us. That movie really showed the truth of that. It's time that a woman won this award, but I bet she doesn't need that definition! Peace.

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    1. She didn't think she had won it when she received the email. She thought her account had been hacked. So no doubt she would have continued her work, medal of no medal. You make an excellent point about Good Will Hunting.

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  21. We were very excited about the Fields Medal news at our house. Good for her!

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  22. Like Stephen, I have high respect for anyone who excels in, or even enjoys, math. Good for her!

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    1. Some changes are for the better. Women in math, science, and engineering is definitely better.

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  23. what an awesome accomplishment! (aww, good will hunting =(

    i like the tomb of the unknown grammarian, too.

    and thanks for stopping by my broken branch falls blog tour!

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  24. I hadn't even heard of the Fields Metal. (I'm so behind the times.) Wahoo for Maryam!

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    1. I don't think many people knew about it until Good Will Hunting came out.

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    2. Probably. I'm trying to remember if I've seen Good Will Hunting. Oye! Too many things trapped in this head of mine.

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  25. That does sound like a huge honor. Math was never one of my strong points so I honor all that can do it.

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    1. I feel as if we--especially women--need to see that we CAN learn a subject that's difficult for us. We have to keep trying until we find the right teacher.

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  26. Yes, last week was very sad. Not only Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, but I also lost my favorite teacher, my HS journalism teacher who pushed me into writing.
    That's cool about the female medal winner, though. Awesome.

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    1. I'm so sorry about the death of your favorite teacher. I can't stand the thought of the world going on without my favorite teacher, Dr. C., in it.

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  27. I loved Good Will Hunting. Excellent movie. I am impressed with anyone who can look at all those numbers and see sense in them. I may as well be looking at hieroglyphs.

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    1. If you had taken math class upon math class upon math class and stayed up till 2 a.m. studying math, those numbers would make sense to you.

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  28. I will admit, though, that I didn't know until my wife told me what the Field Medal is...

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    1. More people know about it now because the selection of a woman made the story more newsworthy.

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    2. Yup. Just like a lot more people know about the Little League World Series because of Mo'ne Davis.

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