``...when I was young, say around 25, and was in graduate school in the early 1950's, I thought of Riemann as a figure in the distant past, about a century earlier. Then, at some point in the 1990's, I was reflecting on Riemann, and suddenly realized that he appeared much closer to me in time than he had some fifty years before. Partly, the problem was that he had died so young, and partly that my perspective had altered considerably, since events of my youth, a half-century earlier, did not seem so far away. In particular, I had the thought that Riemann was only "two handshakes away" from me, in the sense that when I was a graduate student, I attended a meeting at Princeton celebrating the centennial of the birth of the Riemann surface in Riemann's PhD thesis in 1851. Einstein came to one of the sessions, and if I were less shy, I could have gone up to him as some people did, and shook his hand. To continue the fantasy, had Riemann lived a normal lifespan, Einstein could well have met him when he was a student, and shook Riemann's hand. So there were only two virtual hand-shakes between me in Riemann -- not so distant after all.''

Robert Osserman, personal communication, May 19, 1999.

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