April 10, 2009

The Man Who Loved Numbers, Writing, Puzzles, and Chess

Noted author and enigmatologist Paul Hoffman tells Gelf about going from Lederman to Letterman and beyond.

Dan Adler

People often look to science and mathematics as realms of rational and objective truth. Author Paul Hoffman, on the other hand, explores the eccentricity rampant in those fields. His first biography, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, profiles the strange Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös, a man who called children "epsilons" because the Greek letter represents a small quantity in mathematics. His profile of Albert Santos-Dumont, the flamboyant Brazilian inventor who flew around the Eiffel Tower two years before the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, is aptly titled Wings of Madness.

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Kim Hoggan

Great interview. This author is a genius but realistic at the same time. Funny because I don't like being competive at all yet love chess. That is why I find Paul interesting. He has come to realize that the highest of intelligence can't replace the value of love and family.

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