It's obvious
Laurence Horn
laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 13 02:13:40 UTC 2008
At 6:25 PM -0400 8/12/08, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>I have now recalled another "it's obvious" tale, told to or read by
>me I cannot recall when:
>
>The professor of mathematics is at the lecture hall blackboard,
>writing out a proof. As he writes one step, he remarks "this step is
>obvious". He looks again, pauses, steps back, and pauses some
>more. Then he says "excuse me" and leaves the room. About 40
>minutes later he returns, says "yes it's obvious", and continues
>writing the proof.
>
>I don't think I'm confusing this with a cartoon; my visual memory is
>pretty strong.
>
>Joel
There are a bunch of these stories on the web, which I found when I
searched for "Yes, it is obvious" [no contraction], some attributed
to a specific mathematician, some not. You can find four of them by
googling "Yes, I was right, it is obvious".
LH
>
>At 8/11/2008 07:16 PM, James Harbeck wrote:
>>>Remember that old cartoon - from The NY-er, I believe - featuring two
>>>profs? It went something like this:
>>>
>>>Prof. A to Prof. B:
>>>
>>>"It's obvious."
>>>
>>>Nevertheless, having second thoughts, A proceeds to fill two walls of
>>>blackboard with abstruse mathematical calculations. After he finishes,
>>>he turns back to B and reiterates:
>>>
>>>"Yes. It's obvious."
>>
>>Oh, Richard Feynman, in _Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman_, has an
>>anecdote just like that:
>>
>>----
>>At the Princeton graduate school, the physics department and the math
>>department shared a common lounge, and every day at four o'clock we would
>>have tea. It was a way of relaxing in the afternoon, in addition to
>>imitating an English college. People would sit around playing Go, or
>>discussing theorems. In those days topology was the big thing.
>> I still remember a guy sitting on the couch, thinking very hard, and
>>another guy standing in front of him, saying, "And therefore such-and-such
>>is true."
>> "Why is that?" the guy on the couch asks.
>> "It's trivial! It's trivial!" the standing guy says, and he rapidly
>>reels off a series of logical steps: "First you assume thus-and-so, then we
>>have Kerchoff's this-and-that; then there's Waffenstoffer's Theorem, and we
>>substitute this and construct that. Now you put the vector which goes around
>>here and then thus-and-so..." The guy on the couch is struggling to
>>understand all this stuff, which goes on at high speed for about fifteen
>>minutes!
>> Finally the standing guy comes out the other end, and the guy on the
>>couch says, "Yeah, yeah. It's trivial."
>>----
>>
>>James Harbeck.
>>
>>------------------------------------------------------------
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
>------------------------------------------------------------
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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