Tuesday, July 29, 2003


Dr. David Robbins is dying of pancreatic cancer. This is a story about making the most of the time you have (via the Wall Street Journal):
Dr. Robbins, 60 years old, was diagnosed in April with pancreatic cancer and was told he had less than two years to live, maybe much less. He reacted to the news by considering his options: He could stick to his normal work routine at a government research institute. He could search desperately for a cure for his disease, even though his doctors told him the cancer is inoperable. He could go home and wait to die.

Or he could finally get around to a math problem that has been bugging him for decades. The problem is in a category some mathematicians consider "recreational" math. Solving it would do nothing practical for mankind. But to Dr. Robbins, the choice was easy. "I wanted to finish it," he says.

Here's the problem: What is the area of a polygon if you know only the lengths of the sides?
You can read the entire story here (subscription required). Good luck Dr. Robbins!

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