“When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
George Barnard was a brilliant mathematician (Figure 4.1). He had come from a poor family and on his own merits went to Cambridge to the best math department in Britain. For some reason, when you were with George Barnard, interesting and unexpected things tended to happen.
Imperial College, where George had his office, was one of the institutions built by Prince Albert with the proceeds from the Great Exhibition of 1851. At one time, its rooms must have been very large, but expansion of the faculty had, over the ages, produced many extra walls. Consequently, it now had a number of very narrow rooms with very high ceilings. One of these was George Barnard's office. I remember one particular day when I had gone to see George to discuss a problem, but we never really got to it. Soon after I arrived, George said, “You must find it stuffy in here. I'll open a window.” That window must have been closed for a very long time for it proved impossible to move it. George's secretary, Miss Mills, who was used to coping with all kinds of emergencies, brought a screw driver and a hammer and every possibility was tried. Eventually, after a lengthy struggle, the window was opened. But then, almost immediately, two pigeons flew in.
There was a passageway ...