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latest mathematician?

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Sadly, I'd say there are no famous mathematicians today, in the same sense that celebrity athletes, actors, politicians, and the like are famous.

But that doesn't stop people from going into the field and continuing the work of mathematicians past.  They just don't do it for the fame and recognition.  They do it because they are passionate about discovering truths beyond the current boundaries of our knowledge.

I wouldn't say there will never be a famous mathematician in the future, but I doubt it's likely.  The prevailing culture doesn't seem to lift academics to the heights it lifts other parts of society.

As far as the other question, about learning the easy way, I'd say think twice before wanting it to come easy.  Learning is a choice, and it's usually the correct one.  However, anyone telling you that it should be easy, is selling you a falsehood, and potentially a dangerous one at that.  I for one want doctors to have been through some tough schooling before making life altering decisions about my healthcare.

Remember that anything gained with ease, can sometimes be hard to hold onto.  Whereas knowledge gained through hard work, will often be difficult to forget.  Something to think about.

Comments

Robert I agree with some of what you say, but certainly not all of it.  I think there are famous mathematicians today - the question is "famous to whom?"  Certainly within the mathematical community there are people that I'm sure have made quite a name for themselves.  Edward Witten (who is one of the mathematical forces driving string/M theory) and Andrew Wiles (who proved Fermat's last theorem) are two that came to mind, and I don't even consider myself part of the "hardcore" math community - I am a casual observer.  If I stretch out a bit, I might also come up with Grigor Perelman, who proved the Poincare conjecture (just finished reading a book about that), although he would vehemently deny his own fame, if you could even locate him since he has turned away from society.  Certainly, however, these are not household names in the same sense that Dwight Howard or Dale Earnhardt are, but then again I know several people who would just bat their eyes if you mentioned these names - they have no clue who they are either. 

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