A quiet home in Princeton, New Jersey.
A bald Caucasian man stuffed his clothes into a suitcase and yelled, “I don’t have time, go and find someone else! Right now, my teacher is in a hospital bed. This may the last time I’ll see him! For this month, I don’t want to see anything related to mathematics.”
The middle-aged man in a suit had an awkward smile. He was not angry at all.
After all, the man that stood in front of him was the famous Viscount Pierre Deligne, the guy that proved Weil’s conjecture. He had won the Fields Medal, Crafoord Prize, Wolf Prize, and the Abel Prize. If there was a mathematics prize, he had won it.
Even in an advanced institution like Princeton, an institution that accommodated mathematics geniuses around the world, Deligne still stood out.
Davis was just an ordinary editor for the Mathematics Chronicle. Although he graduated from the journalism department of Johns Hopkins University, he knew a little about mathematics.
Mathematics Chronicle was like the son of Princeton University and the stepson of Johns Hopkins University. However, Princeton was also responsible for the journal [Year of Mathematics], which was well respected in the mathematics community. Therefore, Princeton began to spend fewer resources on Mathematics Chronicle.
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The editors at Johns Hopkins University were trying their best to maintain the academic influence of Mathematics Chronicle.
Normally, an ordinary number theory thesis would not be worthy of Davis’ attention. It was a mere coincidence that he had a certain amount of knowledge on number theory that when he first read the thesis, he immediately discovered the extraordinary value of it.
There were countless conjectures about the distribution law of the Mersenne prime numbers, but none of the conjectures had been proved. Among them, the most mathematically beautiful and precise conjecture was undoubtedly the famous Zhou’s conjecture.
When 2^(2^n) < P < 2^(2^n+1), then the amount of Mersenne primes is 2^(n+1)-1.
However, this was just a guess.
Zhou’s conjecture had not been proved or disproved.
When it was proved, it would be upgraded to a theorem!
Even though Davis saw that Professor Delini did not care, Davis refused to give up. Instead, he said, “Come on, Viscount Deligne! Your research is the most outstanding from any professor I’ve ever seen! I read this thesis and instantly thought of you. We’ve been working together for many years now. Can you just please take a look?”
“Stop kissing my ass,” said Deligne as he slammed the suitcase down and laughed coldly. He said, “I know I’m good.”
He usually was not this irritable. Like all the other geniuses at Princeton, he was only a little arrogant. Normally, if Davis brought an interesting thesis to him, he would take the time and read it.
However, no matter how interesting the thesis may be, he had more important matters to attend to.
His teacher, Mr. Grottendick, was lying in a hospital bed and could pass away at any time.
He did not have the appetite to study some math problem. He had to fly to France and see his teacher.
Not only did he paused his academic editor work, but he also stopped his own research projects temporarily.
Davis tried to convince him, “Don’t you want to bring a gift to Mr. Grottendick?”
Deligne said angrily, “Gift? A piece of trash paper? I’d rather buy a flower in France!”
“I promise you, this paper is not as bad as you think,” said Davis sincerely. He then added, “Isn’t proving Riemann’s conjecture your teacher’s life goal? The distribution law of Mersenne prime numbers has been solved, and we have taken another step forward towards the crown of this mathematical world… Even if it’s just a small step! I remember the remark you said in last year’s academic report – that the road to the end of the Riemann zeta function was dark and required countless candles to illuminate… Now, the match is in your hand.”
Deligne stared at Davis and was silent for a while before he finally snatched the thesis from David’s hand.
Finally, the academician could no longer contain his curiosity.
“A proof of Zhou’s theorem?” Deligne’s frowned.
He had read countless theses like this in the past and it only recently stopped being so common. People who thought that they were smart always liked to pick seemingly simple questions, but they had never even started to solve them.
If Zhou’s conjecture was proven, it could really help the research for Riemann’s conjecture. After all, the behavior of the Riemann zeta function was closely related to the frequency of prime numbers. The Riemann hypothesis was about when the zeta function was zero.
When Deligne read the author’s name, he was shocked.
Chinese guy? Or ABC?<
There were quite a lot of outstanding mathematicians in Asia, but he had never heard of this name…
His heart could not help but feel contempt towards the author. However, as he knew that David would never fool him with a crappy thesis, Deligne continued to read.
One minute passed…
Five minutes passed…
Ten minutes passed…
Deligne maintained the same reading position the entire time with his eyes staring intensely at the first page. He had no plans of turning the page.
Davis controlled his breathing when he saw Professor Deligne acting like this. He did not want to disturb Deligne’s thinking.
The more Deligne read the more serious his expression became.
Another five minutes passed…
He rested the suitcase against the wall but he remained silent. Deligne then took an A4 paper and went into his study room before he closed the door behind him.
Davis breathed a sigh of relief and he finally relaxed his stiff shoulders as he sat casually on the sofa in the living room.
Judging from his years of experience, Professor Deligne’s strength of closing the door was positively correlated with how important the thesis was.
If it was a rubbish thesis, he would not even close the door to the study room.
When Deligne was in the study room, he took the draft paper out and started to verify the calculations in the thesis.
The author’s calculations were clear, logical and rigorous. The method of application was so clever that Deligne could not even find a mistake.
Deligne could not even find possible improvements.
What confused him was that, other than the sloppy English, the argumentation process was flawless. It did not look like the author was a newcomer…
It’s too smooth.
I can’t believe how smooth this thesis is.
He wanted to believe that there was a mistake in this five-page thesis!
Maybe I missed the mistake?
This is interesting.
An hour passed.
After Deligne read the last line of calculation, he was silent for a very long time. He then put down the printed thesis next to the draft paper before he sighed and muttered a French word, “Impressive.”
An hour ago, he still had doubts in his mind.
However, after reading it again, he was certain that this five-page thesis had no problems.
He could not think of another word other than impressive.
Deligne really wanted to meet the author of this thesis. However, there was no chance in the near future. After he returned from his France vacation, he would have to participate in a new research project for Princeton, which would occupy him for a few months.
Perhaps, this paper will arouse the interest of my teacher?
He knew that the probability was low as his teacher had not been studying mathematics for many years.
Davis was walking back and forth in the living room when he finally turned his attention to the fish tank next to the living room cabinet. He tapped the glass with his fingers and played with the goldfish to pass time.
Suddenly, the door to the study room opened and out came Deligne with the thesis in his hand.
Davis immediately rushed forward and asked, “How was it?”
As Deligne placed the thesis into the suitcase, he replied without lifting his head, “I need some time. I’ll give you a response within a week.”
When Davis heard him, he held his breath for a moment because he was too excited.
He had worked with him for so many years that he completely understood the professor’s personality.
If a thesis was not inserted into the professor’s shredder, it meant that he could not find a problem with the thesis. If he had not given the thesis back to Davis, it meant that the content of the thesis attracted his attention!
A week’s time was nothing.
It was impossible for an academic editor to quickly review a paper. Repeated scrutiny and verification was necessary. This was not only the rigor of a mathematician but also a scholar. It was the minimum respect for the field of study!
A world-class mathematics problem was about to be solved.
The academic value of [Mathematics Chronicle] would undoubtedly be improved.
As for Davis himself…
What else could better prove his performance as a technical editor other than picking a needle from a haystack?