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MATH Thought for the Day!

G. D. Birkhoff on the rivalry between Princeton and Harvard in the glory days of the 1940s.

Birkhoff:     "What's new down at Princeton?"

Lefschetz:   "Well, one of our visitors solved the four-color problem
                       the other day."

Birkhoff:     "I doubt it but if it's true I"ll go on my knees from the
                       railroad station to Fine Hall."

Birkhoff never had to do this; the number of fallacious proofs of the four-color problem is, of course, legion.

The distance from Fine Hall to the "Dinky" is about one mile.

Fine Hall at Princeton University in April, 2003 before recent construction forced loss of the beautiful cherry trees.

Mathematical People.  Profiles and Interviews, ed.  Donald J. Albers and G. L. Alexanderson, Boston: Birkhäuser, 1985, pp. 12-13.