Ciro Santilli
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High flying bird vs gophers | 🗖 nosplit | ↑ parent "Mathematician" | 425

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Ciro once read that there are two types of mathematicians/scientists (he thinks it was comparing Einstein to some Jack of all trades polymath who didn't do any new discoveries):
  • high flying birds, who know a bit of everything, feel the beauty of each field, but never dig deep in any of them
  • gophers, who dig all the way down, on a single subject, until they either get the Nobel Prize, or work on the wrong problem and waste their lives
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TODO long after Ciro forgot where he had read this from originally, someone later pointed him to: https://www.ams.org/notices/200902/rtx090200212p.pdf Birds and Frogs by Freeman Dyson (2009), which is analogous but about Birds and Frogs. So did Ciro's memory play a trick on him, or is there also a variant; of this metaphor with a gopher?
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Ciro is without a doubt the bird type. Perhaps the ultimate scientist is the one who can combine both aspects in the right amount?
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Ciro gets bored of things very quickly.
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Once he understands the general principles, if the thing is not the next big thing, Ciro considers himself satisfied without all the nitty gritty detail, and moves on to the next attempt.
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In the field of mathematics for example, Ciro is generally content with understanding cool theorem statements. More generally, one of Ciro's desires is for example to understand the significance of each physics Nobel Prize.
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This is also very clear for example after Ciro achieved Linux Kernel Module Cheat: he now had the perfect setup to learn all the Linux kernel shady details but at the same time after all those years he finally felt that "he could do it, so that was enough", and soon moved to other projects.
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If Ciro had become a scientist, he would write the best review papers ever, just like in the current reality he writes amazing programming tutorials on Stack Overflow.
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Ciro has in his mind an overly large list of subjects that "he feels he should know the basics of", and whenever he finds something in one of those topics that he does not know enough about, he uncontrollably learns it, even if it is not the most urgent thing to be done.
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