Archive for November, 2004

So how is it listening to Serge LANG?

For starters, awesome! On second thoughts, phew!

Well, Lang is a guy who actually jumps around while lecturing and every five minutes or so, comes up to a member of the audience and asks the poor creature questions!

So Jennifer was sitting there along with the rest of us, when Lang came up to her and started ,”So tell me..”

She, being female, sensed the trouble before the rest of us. “NoNoNoNoNo…”, she cries out.

Lang, is unmoved. He completes his question, tells Caltech(and the world in general) that she would have known the answer if she had only read Analysis from Lang’s book, and resumes his talk.

There were around 15 of us, including several professors, in a small Caltech classroom listening to Lang talk on “The Heat Kernel and associated zeta functions”. It was fairly elementary, and Lang is a nice speaker, but I am lucky to be one of the few who escaped the Lang sabre.

But the talk was great fun. The funniest exchange is as follows.

Lang(bellows) : If the writers of undergraduate textbooks in analysis weren’t incompetent idiots, all of you would have already known about the big bang of mathematics, the heat kernel!

Member of the audience, a professor: So is it there in your analysis book?

Lang: Well, it was in the appendix in the old edition, but, in the current edition, it is there in the text.(Smiles mischievously and walks up to a professor) Ok Sir, tell me, by Aristotelian logic, what can you therefore conclude about me?

Professor squirms and refuses to say anything.

Lang: That is not good! He wants to take the fifth amendment! Ok, you(points to a grad student), tell me, what can you conclude?

Student: You are no longer an incompetent idiot!


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