Norbert Wiener. Quotes.

October 11, 2015

Also, forgot he moved into a new home….

Wiener as a prototype of an “absent-minded professor”.
These anecdotes (collected by Howard Eves, a math historian) are told about him:

He went to a conference and parked his car in the big lot. When the conference was over, he went to the lot but forgot where he parked his car. He even forgot was his car looked like. So he waited until all the other cars were driven away, then took the car that was left. When he and his family moved to a new house a few blocks away, his wife gave him written directions on how to reach it, since she knew he was absent-minded. But when he was leaving his office at the end of the day, he couldn’t remember where he put her note, and he couldn’t remember where the new house was. So he drove to his old neighborhood instead. He saw a young child and asked her, “Little girl, can you tell me where the Wieners moved?” “Yes, Daddy,” came the reply, “Mommy said you’d probably be here, so she sent me to show you the way home”.

One day he was sitting in the campus lounge, intensely studying a paper on the table. Several times he’d get up, pace a bit, then return to the paper. Everyone was impressed by the enormous mental effort reflected on his face. Once again he rose from his paper, took some rapid steps around the room, and collided with a student. The student said, “Good afternoon, Professor Wiener.” Wiener stopped, stared, clapped a hand to his forehead, said “Wiener – that’s the word,” and ran back to the table to fill the word “wiener” in the crossword puzzle he was working on.

He drove 150 miles to a math conference at Yale University. When the conference was over, he forgot he came by car, so he returned home by bus. The next morning, he went out to his garage to get his car, discovered it was missing, and complained the police that while he was away, someone stole his car.