A New Year's review of 1986 in the British newspaper The Guardian included a collective obituary of public figures who had died during that year. There were long sections devoted to the arts, politics and sports. The only scientists mentioned were part of a ragbag collection of Nobel Prize winners (including the Peace Prize) and buried in the middle of them was—of all people—Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, of Scientology fame. As Old Mother Time begins to close her net curtains on this decade of scientific decline and neglect, scientists are complaining more and more that science does not get its fair share of media attention, and that even when it does get attention it is not treated seriously.

What goes for science goes in particular for mathematics. (Hello there? Yes, we're here too. Did you know there are more mathematicians in the world than astronomers? Amazing, isn't it?) The total media...

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