Michael Atiyah

Born 1929. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge 1954 and PembrokeCollegeCambridge 1958. Friend and colleague of RogerPenrose, who was a Research Fellow at St John's College. Unlike Penrose, who moved into mathematical physics, Atiyah continued to specialize in differential geometry and topology.

Winner of the FieldsMedal 1966. Supervisor of SimonDonaldson in his research at Oxford from 1980, when to everyone's surprise Simon himself won a FieldsMedal. President of the RoyalSociety 1990-95. Later back at Cambridge as Master of Trinity and involved in the new IsaacNewtonInstitute?. Sir Michael is currently retired and an Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh.

Read an interview at http://superstringtheory.com/people/atiyah.html.

Writer of a fascinating appreciation of RogerPenrose at the start of TheGeometricUniverse, including the rather hopeful phrase (for the non-mathematician) of StunningInItsSimplicity. Even for the non-specialist reader the story is clearly both a strange and an inspiring one. But how can we tell? -- RichardDrake


In which case why couldn't he win a NobelPrize in 1966?

Because the NobelPrize is not given to mathematicians. Rumour has it that Nobel's wife ran off with a mathematician. Instead every four years the FieldsMedal is awarded to appropriate mathematicians, but only if they're under 40 years of age, which is why Wiles didn't get one for his proof (with Taylor) of FermatsLastTheorem. I guess that means he's not really a scientist, except he is.

My point exactly, apart from the juicy bit about Nobel's wife, which is new to me, thanks. I just created FieldsMedal on WhyClublet, which is why I just ended up on Wiki for the first time for a while. Feel free to augment our Why page, create FieldsMedal here or perhaps join the discussion about the boundaries of the two communities in WhyClublet. -- RichardDrake

Because a CategoryMathematician would, I suspect, be far too narrow to be of any use. The general public can't understand the difference, and judging by ProgrammingIsMath and similar pages, neither can lots of WikiZens.

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