Tom Lehrer: Lobachevsky - Educational Video

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Tom Lehrer: Lobachevsky - Video

Video Description: Lobachevsky by Tom Lehrer. Source: YouTube

Tom Lehrer
Tom Lehrer (1928-) is an American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician. He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater. Lehrer is best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and 60s. His work often parodied popular song forms, notably in "The Elements", where he sets the names of the chemical elements to the tune of the "Major-General's Song" from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance.

Nikolai Lobachevsky
Nikolai Lobachevsky was a Russian mathematician and founder of non-Euclidean geometry, which he developed independently of JŠnos Bolyai and Carl Gauss. (Lobachevsky's first publication on this subject was in 1829, Bolyai's in 1832; Gauss never published his ideas on non-Euclidean geometry.) The recognition of his ideas by the mathematical community was quite slow. Some mathematicians and historians have claimed that Lobachevsky stole his concept of non-Euclidean geometry from Gauss, but this is not true because Lobachevsky was not corresponding with Gauss at the time; Lobachevsky deserves full credit for inventing non-Euclidean geometry. These ideas were fully accepted only several decades after Lobachevsky's death. But non-Euclidean geometry turned out to be very important for mathematics and science; the German physicist Albert Einstein used a generalization of it for his theory of general relativity.


by Tom Lehrer, 1959


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!

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:

"Zhil byl korol' kogda-to, Pri njom blokha zhila" ("It stinks").
But Izvestia! Izvestia said:
"Ya idu kuda sam tzar' peshkom hodil" ("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.



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