The great mathematician G. H. Hardy was once invited to deliver the keynote address at a mathematics conference. Asked for an advance summary of his talk, Hardy promised to present a proof of the Riemann zeta hypothesis. This came as something of a surprise, particularly given that the famous hypothesis remained unproven. Needless to say, the event was eagerly anticipated...

Soon enough, the momentous day arrived and Hardy delivered his lecture. While undeniably brilliant, however, it had nothing to do with the zeta hypothesis. Hardy was understandably asked why he had chosen a title which had nothing to do with his lecture. This, he replied, was his standard practice -- in case he was killed on the way to the conference. God, he hypothesized, would not allow him to die if it meant granting him the same fame as Fermat had achieved with Fermat's last theorem!

["If I were to awaken after having slept for a thousand years," the mathematician David Hilbert once declared, "my first question would be: Has the Riemann hypothesis been proven?"]

- Posted by Famous People Funny Stories
- September 29, 2012 5:31:50 PM EDT
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