i reread the book 'the man who loved only numbers' by Paul Hoffman over the holidays. it is a wonderful book and a reminder of why we do this. it is so fun and so engrossing. lessons sometimes forgotten in the competitive world of molecular and cell biology, where the competition often is not about who has the ideas, but rather who gathers the most funding and implements fastest. still, it is possible to have a lot of fun solving problems.
i must say though, that the title is just wrong. after reading the book it would be impossible to describe Paul Erdos as only loving numbers. he clearly loved his mother, first and foremost, his collaborators and all children, the 'epsilons as he called them. he just didn't love money, institutional positions or official praise - the usual motivations of many in the higher echelons of our academy and beyond. after his 30's, i don't think he held any official university position, with the duties responsibilities and steady paycheck that this brings. so the image that emerges, is of a man who loved many people and was loved by many. my quibbles with the title aside, this is a highly recommended book.