## Archive for December 21, 2010

### 2 × 5 Hottest Mathematicians

The WordPress admin page lets me know what terms folks are searching for when they find the MJ4MF blog. This past week, one explorer was looking for “very attractive mathematicians.” It occurred to me that I had nothing to offer this person. Well, let’s rectify that immediately!

I considered posting a list of the 10 Hottest Mathematicians, but I decided not to intermingle boys and girls. There are (at least) two good reasons for keeping them separate. First, my selection method is completely arbitrary, and without objective criteria, I’m not sure how I’d determine whether a man is more attractive than a woman. I mean, I know my preference, but that doesn’t really seem fair. Second, there’s an issue with population sample — there have been far more male mathematicians in history, and a mixed-gender list of the 10 Hottest Mathematicians would undoubtedly have only one or two women.

So instead, here are two separate lists, one of the hottest female mathematicians, followed by a list of the hottest male mathematicians. The lists are, of course, entirely subjective, and I welcome an open debate on the subject.

**Hottest Female Mathematicians**

*Danica McKellar (1975 – )*

Yes, I know I’m gonna catch grief for including her on this list. But (a) she’s beautiful, (b) she’s the McKellar in the Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem, which appeared in a paper she published as an undergrad, and (c) her Erdos number is 4. If you still don’t like her inclusion on this list, then protest by refusing to look at the picture below. (Yeah, right — I double dog dare you to look away!)

*Anneli Cahn Lax (1922 – 1999)*

She was a gifted mathematician and a first-rate student, but could her beauty have been another reason she was Richard Courant’s only female student?

*Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya (1850 – 1891)*

I’m sure the first female with a full professorship in mathematics in Northern Europe made her male students’ hearts flutter.

*Hypatia of Alexandria (370 – 415)*

A woman with truly classical beauty, Hypatia is believed to be the first woman to write about mathematics.

*Sophie Willock Bryant (1850 – 1922)*

In addition to an impressive mathematical career, this minister’s daughter published works on Irish history, religion, and philosophy. She was also a rugged outdoorswoman with a penchant for mountain climbing.

**Hottest Male Mathematicians**

*Renato Caccioppoli (1904 – 1959)*

With classical European good looks, Caccioppoli was “one of the most interesting and charming mathematical figures of the 20th century.” Perhaps he is all the more attractive because he was so intriguing. A movie about the events leading to his eventual suicide (*Morte di un Matematico Napoletano*) won seven awards and was nominated for an eighth.

*Donald C. Spencer (1912 – 2001)*

A former chair of the math department at Princeton once described Spencer as “the most attractive mathematician in America.” Admittedly, he didn’t have much competition for the title in the mid‑1950’s, but who I am to argue with a former chair of the Princeton math department?

*Evariste Galois (1811 – 1832)*

This striking young Frenchman had good looks a-plenty. But if that’s not enough for you, how about this? He died in a duel defending the honor of his love. Many women (including my wife) thinks that’s downright sexy.

*Andrew Wiles (1953 – )*

I’ve heard several women refer to him as “an adorable dork.” Bonus points for proving Fermat’s Last Theorem.

*Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777 – 1855)*

Admittedly, he didn’t age well — but he was quite a looker in his younger years, and his brilliance shone brightly till the end of his days.