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 Post subject: P.A.M Dirac and go at Princeton
Post #1 Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:57 am 
Dies in gote

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There are some anecdotes about Einsteins contacts with go and later about John Nash (Beautiful mind) at Princeton. In Graham Farmelo's recent biography of P.A.M. Dirac (the founder of relativistic quantum mechanics) he mentions Dirac actually having introduced go at Princeton Institute of Advanced Study (1935):
"He spent most afternoons playing games in the two common rooms (...) and got trashed by his colleagues in their favourite game, Wei Chi (also known as go), which he had introduced into Fine Hall a few years ago".
Farmelo [1] refers to a letter from Dirac to Max Newman, 17 March 1935. Does anyone know more about go at Princeton generally, or where Dirac had picked it up?

best regards,
Henric

[1] Graham Farmelo, The Strangest Man, Basic Books 2009, p. 256.

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 Post subject: Re: P.A.M Dirac and go at Princeton
Post #2 Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:08 am 
Gosei
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It is also mention in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard Feynman.

The chapter "A Different Box of Tools" Begins:

    At the Princeton graduate school, the physics department and the math department shared a common lounge, and every day at four o'clock we would have tea. It was a way of relaxing in the afternoon, in addition to imitating an English college. People would sit around playing Go, or discussing theorems. In those days topology was the big thing.

I don't know exactly when Feynman was at Princeton, but it may have been around the same time (he worked on the Manhattan project during WWII).

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 Post subject: Re: P.A.M Dirac and go at Princeton
Post #3 Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:06 am 
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Ok, thanks, that's a nice citation!
However it looks like Feynman arrived in Princeton only in 1939: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman .

I just found a note on the BGA site saying (following Franco Pratesi) that go was played in Cambridge in 1935, at least by Alan Turing and Max Newman:
http://www.britgo.org/history/ukhist .
So Dirac might have brought the game from Cambridge to Princeton. Already Herbert Giles in Cambridge had known about the game some decades earlier. Dirac had also been to Japan and interacted with some physicists there.

It would be nice to see any additional info on the subject though.

cheers,
Henric

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 Post subject: Re: P.A.M Dirac and go at Princeton
Post #4 Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:29 am 
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this looks informative:

http://www.britgo.org/history/ukhist

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 Post subject: Re: P.A.M Dirac and go at Princeton
Post #5 Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:40 am 
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The mathematician Ralph H. Fox played go at Princeton at around the crucial time. He got his Ph.D. there in 1939 so his graduate studies must have begun some years before that. The biographical sketch at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Fox describes him as "popularizing" the game of go at Princeton.

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 Post subject: Re: P.A.M Dirac and go at Princeton
Post #6 Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:58 am 
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By the way there is a nice go board in one of the common rooms of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (Simonyi Hall, if I remember correctly).

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 Post subject: Re: P.A.M Dirac and go at Princeton
Post #7 Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:03 am 
Oza

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Quote:
By the way there is a nice go board in one of the common rooms of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (Simonyi Hall, if I remember correctly).


If so, this sounds like it might the one presented to Einstein by Fukuda Masayoshi in May 1951. I'd previously heard from a Princeton don that the board was lost, but maybe he didn't know where to look.

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 Post subject: Re: P.A.M Dirac and go at Princeton
Post #8 Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:21 am 
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Hello,
Not many people know, but the library of Karl Davis Robinson, a 1930/40s American go pioneer, is at Princeton. It is a huge collection, many, many shelves long, of Japanese go books--in fact, the Nihon Kiin came to it to copy books after the their building had been bombed in WWII. Just ask at the Asian section. Robinson also wrote one of the first tentative treatises on go and mathematics--the ms. in typescript is also there in the reserve collection.
Best,
Peter Shotwell

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