The HLF Portraits: Simon Donaldson

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The HLF Portraits: Simon Donaldson
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The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation presents the HLF Portraits: Simon Donaldson; Fields Medal, 1986 Recipients of the the Abel Prize, the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the ACM Prize in Computing, the Fields Medal and the Nevanlinna Prize in discussion with Marc Pachter, Director Emeritus National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, about their lives, their research, their careers and the circumstances that led to the awards. Video interviews produced for the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation by the Berlin photographer Peter Badge. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation or any other person or associated institution involved in the making and distribution of the video. Background: The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) annually organizes the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF), which is a networking event for mathematicians and computer scientists from all over the world. The HLFF was established and is funded by the German foundation the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), which promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. The HLF is strongly supported by the award-granting institutions, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM: ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize in Computing), the International Mathematical Union (IMU: Fields Medal, Nevanlinna Prize), and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA: Abel Prize). The Scientific Partners of the HLFF are the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) and Heidelberg University.

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[Music] let's begin at the beginning were you born into a scientific household yes I think I was on both sides but my mother was she she'd had a degree in Natural Sciences in Cambridge but she didn't pursue pursue in her generation we might typically didn't obviously got married didn't so she married a scientist my father was a he was an engineer he was a replace he sought his career in the Navy but he left the Navy about the time he got married and then he worked in the the physiology lab in Cambridge so he was here build our experiment that the apparatus and thanks for explanations for the Natural Sciences but but as an engineer building there the equipment they need in that sort of thing him not I remember he was working with I think well known people in the head like hodgkin and huxley the the founders of yes that area of understanding the nervous system as far as I understand sir because I'm at the moment interested in the biography of your origin I am wondering what your parents temperaments were like equable I think is that the right word well I really I suppose I'm looking for influences so I'm I'm wondering whether they are at least as parents particularly interested in your future those and you have siblings I believe yes we have the full there are four so are they are there books everywhere are they pushing you are they letting you be to develop your own interests the first to third but not really the second I never really pushed us there were books sent his handful supplies of books but also of other they were definitely there were verses develop our own interests that was maybe them right what the tenders to be I'm even more conspicuous than books would be I've know various shall I describe it projects my father always had many projects he was doing in the house things yes is that's exactly the kind of thing people model aeroplanes but even say he would mend things in the house and in general he so a lot of activity and yes interest in doing difference it feels like the sort of thing I might guess an engineer yeah would would would be interested in so you're you're the third of four all boys all girls a mixture three boys on the girls I'm three three boys my oh yes mr. Silva yes that's right and again you know expectations were not severe and in other words were you in if you were interested in whatever you were interested in they would support it that sort of thing got my thing means of underlying expectations all right valleys but they won't that wasn't they weren't and the small-scale never not particularly right wasn't cinematic they were you were bent over your desk and with them standing over you saying study hard it was generally expected that somehow want to do that was there I know you're gonna move as a family at some point and that will be important to to look at but right now in Cambridge as a family is the schooling available to you good is it in any direction is it particularly is it a public school is it a state school that's very it was what's called a a prep school yeah which is feeder schools for private schools so so go up to 13 that follows the academic expectations yeah which was very good I'm I think I'll learn but since most things I know I learned I love really let's see I it was it was sobering can I find in your life a mentor yet at this I suppose it's I think it's 12 you you move is the family so up till 12 is there is there somebody at school that is taking an interest that's sending you in any direction no not specifically I was the most interested in history at that time were you so you know that's sensible of you of the history school masters were keen on me in it but up but channel there's no specific no push no specific directions said yet you know again it's part of the adventure of the people I've had the privilege of interviewing that at a certain point somebody gets them or sends them somewhere but I'm we haven't reached that point yet in your life are you seen as particularly clever it's an odd question but or you're a good student among good students that sort of thing I think maybe something between the two I was lucky I think I was yeah cuz I used to do well in but not I wasn't neither neither did I do extraordinary well nor was i extraordinary hard-working so I didn't do I didn't do but those are the elements yeah variants so I'm gonna get you to another point where maybe there's something well dramatic is too strong a word but something significant happening so the family moves why because my father's got a different job when Ashley was working with some of the same people but rather than working that for the four Cambridge University they set up a research unit funded by the Medical Research Council to develop some particular through a what he was working on at that time was a special vision really so and they had some very they had some success in doing that yeah that it was maybe it was a bit before its time I think I have a impression that now that area has got much further but huh maybe maybe some of the technology wasn't quite quite there at that deal yeah is what they're working on but also other other that's less ambitious things but basically where you you stimulate the nervous system artificially yes yes replace some damaged did he bring any of those questions or interest home oh yeah we're talking about he was always talking about what what he was struggling like that really so he shared that with his children well that's where did you move as family we worked a Kent just near to attack will Sevenoaks which is a commuter town about 20 miles south of London and that's where obviously you
enter a new school both geographically in terms of age you're at what age roughly at this point I was 12 12 10 it's a very important age for transition so what was the school you went to I've been physical yes a school called seven like school that just never know school yes slightly it was one of these it slightly anomalous things that exist in the purest of it was it a private school yes but since there was no local grammar schools therefore I am instead of a high level the secondary school for a state secondary school for more academically strong people the the state paid for people so half of the pupils were actually supported by the states they and half of them were private in a social sense that I don't believe there has been officials yes it was not it had a broader social mix than ray my thinking and a range of intellectual interest or any sorts of specialties at the school we were all headed in an academic direction I understand that but when it was known it was some it had a reputation that has been quite innovative there were lots of then trendy theories in education that were they took up that right and this is so when we're in the early 60s mid sixties rush was about 1970 a 70s right no so I didn't I didn't completely like it to begin with it took me it took me some years to kinda settle into the school it was just the natural business of an adolescent in a new area or was it the approach that you weren't enjoying that they they seem to take bit of both either grown up thinking that I had a kind of a a path in this this the schools in Cambridge that I was going to fall then this was different than it wasn't but but actually the disruption was probably quite quite good for us it was it suited you but you didn't think so yet no I didn't for a time I was not especially happy I having read about your some somewhat about your life I know that your hobbies and side interests are gonna be perhaps as important as the formal studies I know you're quite interested in boats can you tell me a little bit about that and where that fits in to your growing interests well that was very important because that was really my passion please come through this time so um so that's really what we should be talking about you and boats well that was at this place right yes so let's start that I so that part of my life I was I wanted to grow from beer a designer of yachts that was okay and I was but I should go going back to the school yes it was it was fortunate in fact sailing was a big thing at this good was in fact so you were compared actually through the through the sailing I I I'd be very happy in the school ah you know okay I - oh God but that's but no good - humble done that but what are the elements either in sailing or in the contemplation of a career there encouraging you in certain directions what what did you know perhaps from your engineer father that you had better understand in order to perhaps one when they wind up designing yachts yes that was quite important because I was alright so I would design these yachts and the none of them are ever constructed of course but I what I was quite serious about it I'm out I had books about the calculations you must do all the things you must think of all that time and you must have seen within yourself the talent that might actually lead to that kind of a career so it's not just the the will to do this numbers may be coming into it are you are you beginning to feel quite quite comfortable in the world of numbers well I became intrigued by that was his part part partly through this because I wanted to learn about was more mathematics involved in these things tonight learnt at school so I loved some some things that advance president and yeah and my father Inka my father showed me some mathematical techniques and I was so as using describing curls by what school Demi there's a superstition of sine waves so yes it's a prism so so I was I was intrigued by maybe it's rude of me but I'm also interested in your talent as well as your interest so are you are you finding yourself quick with these things are you beginning to see imaginative problems in the context of ship design and so forth that are drawing you in one way or the other it doesn't have to be so I'm just curious whether that was happening at the same time when was it that was it was all about this time know that I became more interested in mathematics partly was this line from the yacht designer partly from well just I found it that maybe the number of things what one I just found it very interesting that he sort of beautiful another it it fitted in with what I was capable of doing in the sense that most of my family would be doing more projects that actually have you felt you build something you know they were they would make a boat or make an aeroplane was yes exactly but I I some have already got on very well with actually making of physical things but I could make things not physical things but I could make make things existed sort of in the realm of ideas so we're meeting the young theorists we're meeting the young theorists in a way yes I or at least it was something there were things that they were like projects but they were not practical projects like I like to purchase of the mind so I found that likely congenial so the the practical results was was not the beauty you you were looking for yeah it was the beauty itself of the the concept well just it may be the beauty would not be of that stage quite the right please it was just entry I just wanted to I wanted to learn calculus right when I heard about it some years before would have been covered in school I the other reason I'm pressing and genuinely a out of interest is because I find among the mathematicians I've had the pleasure of meeting and talking in the South within this context that so often the word beautiful comes up more elegant that was that would definitely that's very important think about me I probably wasn't what was like yeah front of my mind yes but there's something else I should mentioned yes please which maybe I should have mentioned before when we were talking even back at the days of Cambridge yes my um my grandfather please my mother's father yes who was uh and he wasn't a master at all but he was a retired schoolmaster yes but he was
but he was extraordinary keen on a nice penny that's a he took a huge interest in my development and so he would give me many many books he was he would give me of all kinds but in particular coming to the stage we were talking about now he would give me he would go down to the bookshop in Cambridge and buy some suitable maths books right center so he was told some of them are still in these shelves really that was another another so the mine I might have had some interest but it might have stayed dormant it hasn't been that there was a book that was yes develop it so in a way when I was looking at your mother or your father I should have been looking at your grandfather for that Hey well intellect came a little he was the verb somehow he took her he took a special interest he took his speciality in you in all his grandchildren but all his protector enough it's not really said probably particularly me well now that you're in good school and with academic intentions and a curiosity that's going to actually serve you well later on can I find a mentor among the teachers in this school for you too carry you forth or I suppose I'm really wondering whether you're completely what at least in America would call a self-starter or whether you're having a nurturing intellectual environment along the way they will throw some play-doh nice look Mattox teachers of the school who - were who run yeah they did take a special interest me but I wouldn't I wouldn't quite say that they were as they were they were maybe nurturing would be the word well all right they weren't the seed but right they were right they were nurturing which is was helpful for you as you progressed there's there are formal structures in education where at a certain point somebody decides whether you go on to university I suppose that was expected in your case but you're going on but where do you go and what are you likely to specialize in so let's have that conversation return to the conversation in your last year's when decisions are being made with you and for you and one by you as to what would be next how are you deciding where to go from the time I was about 14 I I gave up the idea of being a yacht designer and I decided to be at a mathematic and you would attend to yourself I'm going to be a mathematician um like I said I I'm try I going to write a bit but in the sense that it was presented to me well the the picture one had at least at that time would be that was something like saying I'm going to be a concert pianist or something which but lots of people might want to do it right but only if you were called yes but I mean in reality it's not quite like that but that was that was how I thought about it at that time right this was some very desirable thing to try to do right and I had a plan B was are gonna be an accountant or something yes something something like something I'm probably not as demanding a form of working with numbers that sort of thing well some I mean that's I think an accountant is just but some more standard professional career though yeah I understand but in order to at least have this shot as they say of being a mathematician we're gonna have to go to a good department a good university is that pretty much prescribed by faith that it became bridge since that was so important to your parents and you had lived there yeah and we never really considered because Cambridge well for one thing it was most of my family went to Cambridge from another yeah my so and we've been so and also particularly a mathematics it was it has this long tradition has been the main Suzy in the Oxbridge context okay be rather see also building just as good but it wasn't it was in the family didn't it didn't it didn't know but also it doesn't have to in the general reputation I thought it was like fair enough there was those that have decisions of them a the place you was it necessary to apply in a particular field or were you given some time to roam at Cambridge before you said well this is the the faculty I'll spend are you already a confirmed aspirin in mathematics so you are going to Cambridge in order to read mathematics oh yes it would have you hot that way out the system Roberta nurse you have to you have to designate the field but there's also quite you know quite a big element in that time is there's a kind of a competitive tradition so the world very the there was scholarship starts filling heritage at that time whichever they were not worth very much so eventually they were not very much but they're what but you were a scholar and as I getting the so the way of being celebrated as a potential scholar and next on you I mean I was not outside this small world probably don't notice but I think in the in the world a world in the world of people at schools applying rancid encounters this was like a big and did you get a scholarship in the end yes but I mean it was it was some white I'm trying to make is that there was there's an element in mathematics just a competition I was saying yes yes being that yes the smartest quickest person yes I said which is not what of that particular period this was this kind of significant right and they're also in Cambridge as well to some extent that there's a sort of a competition to be the top yes and did you notice that in yourself did you notice that in yourself that and I never was the die I was never it was it was a competition that I was would enter but I was never really the I I was did recently in these kind of competitive things but not times never the shouting hello I actually read in one of the accounts of you one of your you know the world in time is going to be very astonished by what you can't do but in retrospect those who had known you at Cambridge or maybe one or two who had taught you said things like he wasn't the top one he he wasn't the one I would have had my eye on for this kind of achievement so you were able you were present you were certainly the
helping as a mathematician but you weren't the one they were betting on so this one I'm putting it in this way but no not the conception was different but you know people didn't know what you had in you let's can we put it that way and perhaps you didn't but you're doing well I'm here you're doing well and at Cambridge you're doing significantly well sufficiently well in order to then go to graduate work yeah so let's put you at the cusp of that the end of that Cantabrigian period unless there's something that happened in mathematics in your study of mathematics that's important to to note at this point before before you're deciding about graduate school was there a lot I thought was their intent was there a project ask ya again a mentor a way of finding direction I became intrigued by the the branch magnetic school geometry which is yes maybe a bit distant from what most people might think of us and I'd like to I know is that Euclidean but tell me so um what what in my geometry to you at this point [Music] that's quite hard to pin down um bear that is it it does involve working with ideas in a visual way even if they're very abstract ideas so actually that says a lot yeah it's the core many things he will do in the future so this overlap of the visual yes worked with theoretically you're beginning to feet I get a feel for at this point so I can actually it was in the Cambridge course of that time there was nothing about geometry it was but there was there was one small course and there were various also through the through the applied mathematics through the courses in relativity of things thank so I I am somewhere I just felt this was also in fact the the fact that it was not nearly taught somehow added to the intrigue it was like there's a secret no a secret subject also possibly and again I'm making guesses about your temperament how you're the expert in that that that intrigues you but also it's almost a challenge in the sense that as I see it in the sense that it's not really quite respected I mean it's it's not considered important anymore or maybe it's belongs to the past not to the present in the future is that fair to say in in the world around you that you're as geometry has thought about and so forth it's in the I know in the world around me at that time in Cambridge yes yes but it was just not a you probably just not something people knew about really having to logic right you but you pursued it I mean yeah yeah where I'm going with this because your great achievement and continuous achievement has been to not listen to assumptions about whether something was important or still had validity or could be done yes it feels like a bit of the secret of how you progress and so this the notion that geometry was not particularly with featured or favored among among mathematicians then yeah seems to have been important in your development yeah it was yes I mean I'm a great leader right in temperament as I subsequently both as I soon found out just down the road at Oxford yeah there are lots of people who did exactly that but where you were but there were yeah and in fact in Cambridge as I touched on there were people around more on Stephen Hawking who were doing in a sense the same kind of thing but from a on a plot yes applied directions so that and that was maybe a part of it a part of all this was that in Cambridge the mathematics is divided into pure and applied okay so ice have decided I was going to be pure but then a lot of a lot of a lot of the activity was something I was not very applied yes would have but there's this was not true Boxford which you'll go to very soon they did not make this a severe a distinction between applied in do you know it's all in its more unified analysis and more traditional to get you to Oxford what will it take will you have to do an undergraduate thesis I mean what what is again the the the formal progress of your mathematical training well i just i'm not applied to do a a PhD yes as with the DPhil in Oxford and I done these exams in Cambridge and they you did alright I didn't write here there was something there was someone in Cambridge who was very important to me okay please I was cool but there were several but personally because my mind now is someone cool Adams Frank Adams who and he was not he was a topologist really so not really but he and me he I somehow managed to impress him when he wrote to I think he he was one of my references roxrite which is that I think I convinced him and wrote please here's what he was he was a very kind he had a sort of them that's off up to one of my exams in Cambridge Adams wrote to me saying I was think one of the examiners and I want to congratulate you on what you what you wrote in these examples which is what which is kind to me yes kind to do that but important to think that in terms of being a sponsor of yours your future in a way so nothing was I didn't just answer the questions I kind of get the maximum marks in the least time but I have my own way of doing things your own medication I think we're sensing that yeah that's what you this there's in the context of your way of doing things and one of the things that I will of course talk about your great insight and when it happens your first great insight but that being said I I notice in you something which is one could call modern or postmodern as one chooses which is the the the lack
of interest in the relationship of various categories that are normally kept apart I mean I I suppose we can say particularly so here in the case of physics and mathematics it's not that they're kept apart but they're assumed they have different natures and so forth and you don't seem to be bite temperament or inclination interested in the Givens of category is that fair to say I mean that well that's that and that's the habit I got there as well so that's a nice thing yeah and it's it's clearly apparent already as a Cambridge undergraduate it's this tendency which has been picked up by by your professor well you get it if I have tense maybe please doing going to later time that maybe and most of my work I stopped tend to know I just know a little about a number of things rather than being a the great experts any particular things I am bringing together different well as a culture serious I think that that has to have been very significant in a lot of your achievement because it was really the the 20th century the earlier 20th century that was captured by specialization almost to the point of losing the possibility of insights because of those little prisons of specialty yes and it would be exactly your generation and I would argue your temperament that took us to the next stage because that neat categorization hasn't been the basis for some of the great insights that we're not working with so it seems to me you have the temperament and perhaps even the moment in time where people are going to begin to listen to another way of thinking you're at Oxford again if I press too much on this it's the cultural historian in me but the the spirit of Oxford's mathematical culture when you get there we've already gotten a sense that it's not split very neatly into the theoretical and the applied but I think you you've praised the atmosphere you enter there the the nature of Oxford mathematical culture can you talk a little bit about your discovery of it and how it affected you I think it was my punch and save someone Oxford in itself that was because of already to remotely a tear and Penrose yeah both that and so it was some the the culture had developed around the activity and culture developed around them that was not the only police so it's great that it wasn't Austin but it was yes ok it was there enough I will give credit where credit is due but what was that culture in a way well how did that affect the way you were thinking as a graduate student when it was part of it as you mentioned about the kind of historical month okay so one thing is that they're both remarkable PS and also I pick you a tear was a very charismatic mm-hmm person who could have he would have he would have been the top of any area he wanted to go and use to the end of us but but it was also there was a kind of a wider movement in that time in mathematics from partly in general as you were saying with less division and compartments but also specifically in extending the connection with with putting geometry and physics that was so that was that was a much more general thing going on about just a general intellectual movement of everyone below but in particular Oxford was kind of the center for that mm-hmm and just suited you yes based on the kinds of interest yes I'm saying exactly that you have the right thing would you have said at that point that you were the right word but I'm gonna use it anyway competent in equally in physics and some of its interests and directions and what it could teach and mathematics or were you sort of weak and one and the other I mean you you you will work together with them but I'm just wondering where did the physics come into it now I I i have been and i have now quite very limited technical knowledge of advanced physics i okay III had a good background in classical physics from but really good but I actually have no or very little technical knowledge of the on the front line of yes there's a game but but it was more than certain certain ideas and questions arose in physics which could then be understood about terraces so it's the lack of technical knowledge of physics was not a not a major oh yeah and I do believe I landed bandage although to be obviously at some level but also you're also not bound yes so you can take from it what your needs to speak I remember someone telling me at that time write something I don't don't try to learn quantum field theory until you have a tenured job haven't yeah well this is a bit so yes that was very that so it took a lot to really understand things in a significant way what it was right you know a large dispatch at disadvantage which is wonderfully ironical that being said I know it's formally initially Hitchin who is your your formal director yes yes I saw it yes I went to weapons Angela yeah right is that he who suggests a direction for your dissertation and how was that articulated to you as a problem to be solved or that might that you might take on oh he he he explained a problem or a conjecture which had come to sort of growing out of what this this area of interaction I'm taking about that work he'd done videos before with with it yeah but but I don't think he really meant me to work on the conjecture in general he really loved me what he suggested he was I check some
kind of construction for a special case and I should assume haha he never really said this is your project okay but nevertheless that's what I I started trying to solve this conjecture my job that he presented to you is I should say Nigel you know I didn't meet a tear for the first year I'm so not just that all this so much I was so you're at work on this conjecture yes I'm the thing there was that right so the always geometers in also they didn't do analysis and they didn't that's kind of things getting a partial differential equations and things Ray Arden so that was exaggerated it was but they so there was a kind of a gap there intellectually in that there was a particular blips with nonlinear partial into question yes this is not something look good I somehow part because I had a lot of analysis in Cambridge so I was partly because that's something I find congenial aren't really nice in a word but I sort of embarked on solving this problem using techniques finatus right partial differential equations the person I'm so intrigued by the scientists the mathematician is the fellow who is proceeding down a path and will eventually come up with an insight that will astonish the profession I mean you won't be so modest to deny that I mean when in the end you produce your insight that perhaps somebody so young did it is the least of it what was remarkable as it it ups didn't upset it overturned fundamental assumptions yes and maybe there's no way for you least of all Lisa paper doin to answer how you did that or why you did that or why you didn't stop and this path and say well I won't proceed there because doesn't make sense or you know I could also write I Ives I know quite clearly why but it's nothing there's nothing very it wasn't entirely accidental you could say but oddly due to the I was I was struggling to understand the pace of techniques from partial differential equations yes things like that which was not not something I had any kind of but I had to learn it for myself that I've been there wasn't any more training than that so I
in general in trying to understand something a way is to do a lot of thought experiments you say if this is true then what would be the cost of coasters we'll see where it easy so I was I so doing that I had this idea about how these solutions this equation could behave for then that gave me this picture and then so that we there was where you have a did this equation but to give you a space for Abbott rising all the solutions so I was looking at the properties of this space right now then sort of I just I just saw what in Vincents not difficult to see from another on the side of topology yes you have such a space there are basic things you that has leads to basic consequences so I put this two consequences together and then it transpired that that would be some new information about the manifolds that girl we all studying the full dimensional manifold ensue so it was it was wrong I was not starting off thinking they want to get deranged about thought that was not I know I and I didn't even knew that I didn't even know that this information was new really oh that's very I thought the one time I thought that it would be some sort of interesting new approach to some well-known think about a formal affluent self yes that I had a I had a colleague who we shared I shared an office with got Mike Hopkins who has now a very distinguished topologist video he filled me in on some crucial information don't know they remember another I realized that this information would be important new information so basically again I'm just saying in a certain way just to to get a response but the truths revealed themselves it's not that you set out and said well now this is a direction and that you knew the implications of that journey you just proceeded yes but once once the first so we go back to the first thing as the point was that there were it depended upon having these interests both in interest and knowledge both of the the partial vision equations but also of the depalo that around you which i i i happen to have through my eventually maybe the the cambridge background is good there because although we hadn't learned this drama tree in a formal way we had long leaves anything so with those two things anyone could sense see that you've got information from this space but probably in reality not many people there were not many people who would have and that combination of exact background you know the once once some once I had this basic observation that it was clear that one should go full steam ahead to develop into a much bigger a much bigger theory of how these these spaces could give information about four-dimensional uh no thoughts was there we don't have much more time but we're we're on the central point and goal of this interview which is exactly that process of inquiry is there a Eureka moment in at that time in the creation of the thesis and some sense of what you had begun to see and how it might have a significant effect in mathematical inquiry or do not know there wasn't quite a single moment as I said because Eureka moment will be when I thought oh I found her I found him I found a beautiful formula about something yes but maybe it's I don't quite know what it's good for I mean maybe it's something that's already known oh yes I know but you know something new here I know it's something I know it's something beautiful for me laughs yes yes but but then it took maybe a month or so to find out what it was good for potentially because yes at this stage this was all but a thought experiment saying if this was true then this happens but so I know there's a lot of hard work in fitting in all the approves the details yes it's the hard work of inquiry a formal inquiry yes was there and sort of end with this salute so you presented it to clearly the all along you've probably been having chats with Hitchin and Atia as you proceed and are they manifesting excitement yes well let's see so I've been from my first year announced what I was working with hitch aging but then he suggested I moved to Atia he suggested I say that well between them they suggested so yeah so I thought then it was about I think was about a month after I'd started seeing up typically the Tice came along and said look we've got this it's forward right and then yeah he wasn't he was excited yes it's quite important actually when somebody respect says my god you're you're a very interesting going in a very interesting direction yes because we don't have the time I wish we had I do want to ask what seems to me implicit in the rest of your career which is up to now which has been quite rich and respected and you good positions and good faculties and so forth is it fair to say at this point and you're still a young scholar and what would you will what you will achieve that you're still working within the framework of that insight that happened in in in the course of that significant dissertation and or the paper that you'd then wrote it'll be reasonable to say if it's very broadly interpreted in there in the following way that even I'm still working in somewhere in between these partial differential equations approaches and more topological ideas and geometry and all these different things so although the precise things in that mix as I've worked on have evolved over the years company so that's one way it's supposed to say another is that now so from that time in 1980 and early 1980s we suddenly discovered a lot more about these four dimensional manifolds well for the roughly four ten years after that there was a commotion of knowledge but then that reached has reached apparently line I'm not exhausted then the pace of discovery slowed up so not it hasn't been much radically new and so so I still and then of fundamental questions that we don't we just they seem pretty excessive you have no real way of attacking so I would still really like to be attacking these questions I still think about them that again because because they're not really accessible I've sort of gone off to work around that work on other things around them but somehow they're still the center of my interest in something if I if you said what what do I really want to understand it would be these years questions about four of interests and one of those and not not does the answer the questions but also why there are these connections with equations coming from physics and things like that what is and you're certainly not alone now in that in that universe of inquiry oh no no no this whole area of the brain this whole area has and I very the broader sense of the interaction of doing these different fields has thrived and I'm the younger for younger people
[Music] so they they have to get much broader there are younger people who have the deep understanding of yet and field theory and things combined with they may not even that cool techniques realize now how revolutionary concept it was now that it is part of the discourse probably it's fair to say there's a little time just yeah well I'd like to have to be the last words thank you very much