For many years now, Mr. Danny Kaye, who has been my particular idol since childbirth, has been doing a routine about the great Russian director Stanislavsky and the secret of success in the acting profession. And I thought it would be interesting to st... to adapt this idea to the field of mathematics. I always like to make explicit the fact that before I went off not too long ago to fight in the trenches, I was a mathematician by profession. I don't like people to get the idea that I have to do this for a living. I mean, it isn't as though I had to do this, you know, I could be making, oh, 3000 dollars a year just teaching.
Be that as it may, some of you may have had occasion to run into mathematicians and to wonder therefore how they got that way, and here, in partial explanation perhaps, is the story of the great Russian mathematician Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky.*
Who made me the genius I am today, The mathematician that others all quote? Who's the professor that made me that way, The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat?
One man deserves the credit, One man deserves the blame, and Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy! Nicolai Ivanovich Lobache...
I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky. In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!
Plagiarize, Let no one else's work evade your eyes, Remember why the good Lord made your eyes, So don't shade your eyes, But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize... Only be sure always to call it please, "research".
And ever since I meet this man my life is not the same, And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy! Nicolai Ivanovich Lobache...
I am never forget the day I am given first original paper to write. It was on Analytic and Algebraic Topology of Locally Euclidean Metrization of Infinitely Differentiable Riemannian Manifold. Bozhe moi! This I know from nothing.** But I think of great Lobachevsky and I get idea - haha!
I have a friend in Minsk, Who has a friend in Pinsk, Whose friend in Omsk Has friend in Tomsk With friend in Akmolinsk. His friend in Alexandrovsk Has friend in Petropavlovsk, Whose friend somehow Is solving now The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.
And when his work is done - Haha! - begins the fun. From Dnepropetrovsk To Petropavlovsk, By way of Iliysk, And Novorossiysk, To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk To Tomsk to Omsk To Pinsk to Minsk To me the news will run, Yes, to me the news will run!
And then I write By morning, night, And afternoon, And pretty soon My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed, When he finds out I published first!
And who made me a big success And brought me wealth and fame? Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy! Nicolai Ivanovich Lobache...
I am never forget the day my first book is published. Every chapter I stole from somewhere else. Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory. This book, this book was sensational!*** Pravda - ah, Pravda - Pravda said: "Jeel beel kara ogoday blyum blocha jeli," ("It stinks"). But Izvestia! Izvestia said: "Jai, do gudoo sun sai pere shcum," ("It stinks"). Metro-Goldwyn-Moskva bought the movie rights for six million rubles, Changing title to 'The Eternal Triangle', With Brigitte Bardot playing part of hypotenuse.****
And who deserves the credit? And who deserves the blame? Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy!