By now I trust you have all heard the good news. Terry Tao, Australian mathematician extraordinaire, has won a Fields Medal – the equivalent of the Nobel prize in mathematics. Those of you who have heard from me in recent times may have heard me mention this possibility, which has now become a reality. It is great to see it happen.
This is really an amazing achievement. It’s the first time an Australian has won a Fields medal, and he is a very young recipient at 31. Terry is originally from Adelaide, went to the IMO three times, aged 10, 11, 12, winning bronze, silver and gold respectively. By age 24 he was a full professor at UCLA. He has done a huge amount of research in a whole series of different fields. It is quite exceptional. And although I’ve never met him personally, from all accounts he is a very nice guy.
As Terry says, the mathematics itself is far more important than any one person. But it is great to see mathematicians and mathematics – indeed, science and scientists more generally – receiving some attention in Australia.
I think it would be good to nominate Terry for Australian of the Year for 2007. The magnitude of his achievement, one might think, would make him an obvious choice. But given Australia’s culturally stereotypical preferences, it is perhaps not a foregone conclusion. The more of us that nominate him the better.
You can nominate him online at http://www.australianoftheyear.gov.au/pages/index.asp . It’s pretty straightforward, you just fill in the form. But if you want to do so, it’s *quite urgent*, because the closing date for nominations is just a few days away, August 28. (It’s also possible to nominate on paper and post by snail-mail, but given the time constraints this seems infeasible.) Completing the form shouldn’t take too long: I estimate half an hour maximum. To make it easy for you, I’ve provided below two appendices: (1) hints for filling out the form, and (2) useful links.
If you think this is a good idea, it would be excellent if you could find the time to nominate this very worthy candidate.