I have a prediction. Or perhaps, more of a hope. Perhaps more of a
hopeless dream.

The prediction is who is going to be Australian of the Year next
year. But it is not a prediction over which we have no control. We
can make it happen. We can turn our dream into a reality. I have a
dream!

You can help my prediction come true by nominating, writing to the
committee and generally engaging in advocacy for one of the greatest
Australians.

Not a sportsperson. Not a politician. Not an entertainer. Not an
actress. Not a B-grade celebrity. Not a political gesture. No, not
any worthless such personage, however famous. I am talking about
something important here.

Not another medical researcher, though they have been doing a pretty
good job recently. Not even a Nobel Prize winner. Not even a Nobel
Prize winner in something other than medicine. No, even better than
that.

You see, by this time next year Australia will have its first Fields
Medalist. This is an Australian who will have achieved the highest
honour for a mathematician in the world, who has proved whole
swathes of remarkable theorems, wiped out various branches of
research, and generally devastated the mathematical landscape. That
is Terry Tao. He is the man. And he should win – nay, he WILL win –
Australian of the Year. Or maybe Young Australian of the Year, I’m
not sure what the age restrictions are, but that would be a complete
copout. Anything less would be a disgrace to the nation, and no
fair-dinkum dinky-di beer-drinking flag-wearing Aussie could
possibly disagree. That would be unAustralian. Even that small
recalcitrant element of non-fair-dinkum non-dinky-di
non-flag-wearing (but possibly still beer-drinking) sane people who
remain in the country could not disagree either. Because every
Australian is deeply appreciative of their lucky country, and don’t
we all know it, we’re lucky that there are arbitrarily long
arithmetic progressions of primes.

You can get it movin’,
You can get it provin’,
You can get it checking a prime.
A hard earned theorem needs a big Australian award, and the best
Australian Award is this.
You can get it artithmetin’,
You can get it progressin’,
You can get it any old how
Matter o’ fact, he should get it now.

TERRY TAO IN 2007!

Australia Day 2007: I have a dream

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