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Lobachevski

by Tom Lehrer


"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 Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski is his name.
Hi!
Nikolai Ivanovich Lobach –

"I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevski. In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: 'Plagiarize!'

"'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, pliz, "research".'

"And ever since I meet this man
My life is not the same,
And Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski is his name.
Hi!
Nikolai Ivanovich Lobach –

"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! Zis I know from nosing. But... I think of great Lobachevski, and get idea – ahah!

"A 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 I published first!

"And who made me big success
And brought me wealth and fame?
Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski is his name.
Hi!
Nikolai Ivanovich Lobach –

"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 was sensational!

"Pravda - well, PravdaPravda said:
'It stinks.'1
It stinks.

"But Izvestia! Izvestia said:
'It stinks.'2
It stinks.

"Metro-Goldwyn-Moskva buys movie right for six million rubels, changing title to The Eternal Triangle, with Brigit Bardot playing part of hypotenuse.

"And who deserves the credit?
And who deserves the blame?
Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski is his name.
Hi!"


_____________________________________

1. Fayer, Mischa H., Ph.D., Pressman, Aron, and Pressman, Anastasia Feodorova, Simplified Russian Grammar, Pitman Publishing Corporation, New York, Toronto, London, 1957, p. 242. Note that the implied meaning of the quoted passages bears no intended relationship to their actual meaning, which is Greek to us, and implies nothing, good or bad, about the quoted work.

2. Loc. cit.



Plagiarized from Mathematician and sometimes Songwriter Tom Lehrer's seminal work on the Russian Geometer Nikolai Lobachevski, 1793-1856, founder of non-Euclidean geometry.



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