Robert MacPherson interviewed
September 12, 2012 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Robert MacPherson interviewed as part of the Simons Foundation's Science Lives series. MacPherson is among the founders of the modern theory of singularities, points like a kink in a curve where the geometry of a space stops being smooth and starts behaving badly. In the interview, MacPherson talks about cultural differences between math and music, his frustration with high school math, growing up gay in the South and life as a gay man in the scientific community, smuggling $23,000 in cash into post-Soviet Russia to help mathematicians there keep the lights on, catastrophe theory, perverse sheaves, how to be a successful graduate student, stuttering, and of course the development of the intersection homology theory for which he is most well-known.
posted by escabeche (5 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Am still working my way through it but so far this is a really fascinating portrait. Thanks a ton for the post.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:15 PM on September 12, 2012

I had to try two browsers and finally clicked on the first item on the playlist before I could get the video to play. If you're having problems, try clicking on that playlist item, and maybe it will work for you.
posted by hippybear at 7:20 PM on September 12, 2012

Amazing story. The cash to Russia thing blew my mind.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:33 PM on September 12, 2012

Wow, this is fantastic. (And coincidentally, I've recently been reading the book he co-wrote about applications of singularity theory and perverse sheaves in representation theory. Fascinating stuff.)
posted by Frobenius Twist at 6:57 AM on September 13, 2012

what a fascinating person. Thanks for introducing me to him.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:19 AM on September 13, 2012

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