Way back in the past, a long, long time ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I still had a bit of hair, I was involved in a financial modeling workshop on behalf of Starlab.
We were working together at conference in Texas in 2001 over a weekend.
One of my favorite things to do is have a good dinner conversation over a bottle of wine. When I worked at Starlab, I lived on site and used to do just that. I considered myself fortunate if I could rope people together for a meal. I found myself surrounded by PHd's in Math, Physics, Biology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence etc. This is a fantastic way to spend an evening, just listening to learn how each of them viewed how their world works or could in the future. Some of my other friends were sociologists, architects, musicians, designers etc. Most were from all over the globe, usually I was the token American :) Great meals and great conversation.
Today, I am lucky and so are my dinner guest in that my wife likes great conversation and is an amazing cook, this means better food for the guests. I do the dishes :)
Back to Mandelbrot, he is one of the most famous mathematicians alive today and I have a great deal of respect for him, he never sold out or allowed his name to be used improperly. He discovered many interesting aspects of financial markets among his work in mathematics. To my knowledge he never allowed his "brand" to be used in a way that might mis-represent the truths he found in finance. He was a nice and bright man with a gracious wife.
I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Keith Still in Brussels, again a bright man gifted in many areas of science and possessing an interesting ability to analyze and put things together. He is one of the world's experts on movements in crowds and egress. He has done work in modeling irregular heart beats, foreign exchange and a few other fields, truly a polymath, no pun intended. He possesses a a great knowledge of modeling complex systems with multiple interacting agents.
One afternoon Keith introduced my to his mentor Dr. Ian Stewart (Mathematician) and Dr. Jack Cohen (biologist) I conjunction with Keith, Ian and Jack was a Stem Cell biologist. We had a 3 hour lunch in an English pub in Warwick. Great stuff, funny conversation and incredible opportunity to try and keep up with everyone. We spent the whole time discussing morphogenesis and other fascinating topics. A great afternoon. If you get the chance check out some of Stewart or Cohen's books they are great reads for the layman or sci-fi fan.