Jul. 17th, 2017

I saw an obituary in the paper the other day; the mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani has died of breast cancer. I hadn't known she was ill, and now I feel that the world is diminished by the loss of a thinker whom I never met and whose work I am not qualified to appreciate.

Her death may not ultimately matter more than the similar death of a sales clerk in Tulsa or a peasant in Bangladesh, but it troubles me that the first woman to win the Fields medal is no longer with us. It seems a sad commentary on humankind that vast numbers of people read tabloids about shallow people famous for being famous, and probably not one American in a thousand could have identified this great mathematician. Most likely, Professor Mirzakhani would not have wanted to be followed by paparazzi, or to have her illness extensively and inaccurately reported in the yellow press; still, I could wish for some dignified acknowledgment of a person of true accomplishment.

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ndrosen

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