“The Pursuit of Beauty” is a New Yorker (Feb 2) article about one of the world’s leading mathematicians, who obtained his first standard academic job, at University of New Hampshire, at age 59. What kind of job did he have for many of the years since he received his PhD?
A member of the group, a chemist in a lab, opened a Subway franchise as a means of raising money. “Since Tom was a genius at numbers,” another member of the group told me, “he was invited to help him.” Zhang kept the books. “Sometimes, if it was busy at the store, I helped with the cash register,” Zhang told me recently. “Even I knew how to make the sandwiches, but I didn’t do it so much.” When Zhang wasn’t working, he would go to the library at the University of Kentucky and read journals in algebraic geometry and number theory. “For years, I didn’t really keep up my dream in mathematics,” he said.
All that he needed to do to get a “real job”was solve a problem that had stymied mathematicians since the 19th Century….
Related: “Women in Science” (STEM careers versus the alternatives)