Game Nerd

Garry Kasparov (Russian chess grandmaster) was born on April 13, 1963

Garry Kimovich Kasparov is a Russian (formerly Soviet) chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer and political activist, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22 by defeating then-champion Anatoly Karpov. He held the official FIDE world title until 1993, when a dispute with FIDE led him to set up a rival organization, the Professional Chess Association. He continued to hold the “Classical” World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000. He was the first world champion to lose a match to a computer under standard time controls, when he lost to Deep Blue in 1997. Kasparov’s ratings achievements include being rated world No. 1 according to Elo rating almost continuously from 1986 until his retirement in 2005. He achieved a peak rating of 2851, which was the highest recorded until 2013. He was the world No. 1 ranked player for 255 months, nearly three times as long as his closest rival, Anatoly Karpov. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive tournament victories and Chess Oscars.

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Music Nerd

Herbie Hancock (American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, and composer) was born on April 12, 1940

Herbert Jeffrey “Herbie” Hancock is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer. As part of Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet, Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the “post-bop” sound. He was one of the first jazz musicians to embrace music synthesizers and funk music (characterized by syncopated drum beats). Hancock’s music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs “cross over” and achieved success among pop audiences. His music embraces elements of funk and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz. In his jazz improvisation, he possesses a unique creative blend of jazz, blues, and modern classical music, with harmonic stylings much like the styles of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Hancock’s best-known solo works include “Cantaloupe Island”, “Watermelon Man” (later performed by dozens of musicians, including bandleader Mongo Santamaría), “Maiden Voyage”, “Chameleon”, and the singles “I Thought It Was You” and “Rockit”. His 2007 tribute album River: The Joni Letters won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album ever to win the award after Getz/Gilberto in 1965. Hancock is a member of Sōka Gakkai International. On July 22, 2011 at a ceremony in Paris, Hancock was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of Intercultural Dialogue. Hancock recently joined the University of California, Los Angeles faculty as a professor in the UCLA music department where he will teach jazz music.

Math Nerd

Andrew Wiles (British mathematician) was born on April 11, 1953

Sir Andrew John Wiles KBE FRS is a British mathematician and a professor at Princeton University, specializing in number theory. He is most famous for proving Fermat’s Last Theorem. Andrew Wiles is the son of Maurice Frank Wiles (1923–2005), the Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and Patricia Wiles. His father worked as the Chaplain at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, for the years 1952-55. Wiles was born in Cambridge, England, in 1953, and he attended King’s College School, Cambridge, and The Leys School, Cambridge. Wiles discovered Fermat’s Last Theorem on his way home from school when he was 10 years old. He stopped by his local library where he found a book about the theorem. Puzzled by the fact that the statement of the theorem was so easy that he, a ten-year old, could understand it, he decided to be the first person to prove it. However, he soon realized that his knowledge of mathematics was too small, so he abandoned his childhood dream, until 1986, when he heard that Ribet had proved Serre’s ε-conjecture and therefore established a link between Fermat’s Last Theorem and the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture. Wiles earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1974 after his study at Merton College, Oxford, and a Ph.D. in 1980, after his research at Clare College, Cambridge. After a stay at the Institute for Advanced Study in New Jersey in 1981, Wiles became a professor at Princeton University. In 1985-86, Wiles was a Guggenheim Fellow at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques near Paris and at the École Normale Supérieure. From 1988 to 1990, Wiles was a Royal Society Research Professor at Oxford University, and then he returned to Princeton. In October 2009 it was announced that Wiles would again become a Royal Society Research Professor at Oxford in 2011.

Science Fiction Nerd, Writer Nerd

David Langford (British science fiction author) was born on April 10, 1953

David Rowland Langford is a British author, editor and critic, largely active within the science fiction field. He publishes the science fiction fanzine and newsletter Ansible. As a writer of fiction, Langford is noted for his parodies. A collection of short stories, parodying various science fiction, fantasy fiction and detective story writers has been published as He Do the Time Police in Different Voices (2003, incorporating the earlier and much shorter 1988 parody collection The Dragonhiker’s Guide to Battlefield Covenant at Dune’s Edge: Odyssey Two). Two novels, parodying disaster novels and horror, respectively, are Earthdoom! and Guts!, both co-written with John Grant. The novelette An Account Of A Meeting With Denizens Of Another World 1871, is an entertaining account of a UFO encounter, as experienced by a Victorian, but is notable chiefly for the framing story, in which Langford claimed to have found the manuscript in an old desk (the story’s narrator, William Robert Loosley, is a genuine ancestor of Langford’s wife). This has led some UFOlogists to believe the story is genuine (including the US author Whitley Strieber, who referred to the 1871 incident in his novel Majestic). Langford freely admits the story is fictional when asked — but, as he notes, “Journalists usually don’t ask.”

Comedy Nerd, Math Nerd, Music Nerd

Tom Lehrer (American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician) was born on April 9, 1928

Thomas Andrew Lehrer is an American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician. He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater. Lehrer is best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and 1960s. His work often parodies popular song forms, such as in “The Elements”, where he sets the names of the chemical elements to the tune of the “Major-General’s Song” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. Lehrer’s earlier work typically dealt with non-topical subject matter and was noted for its black humor, seen in songs such as “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”. In the 1960s, he produced a number of songs dealing with social and political issues of the day, particularly when he wrote for the U.S. version of the television show That Was The Week That Was. In the early 1970s, he retired from public performances to devote his time to teaching mathematics and music theatre at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He did two additional performances in 1998 at a London gala show celebrating the career of impresario Cameron Mackintosh.

Inventor Nerd, Technology Nerd

Bob Metcalfe (co-invented Ethernet, founded 3Com and formulated Metcalfe’s Law) was born on April 7, 1946

Robert Melancton Metcalfe is an electrical engineer from the United States who co-invented Ethernet, founded 3Com and formulated Metcalfe’s Law. As of January 2006, he is a general partner of Polaris Venture Partners. Starting in January 2011, he holds the position of Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of Innovation at The University of Texas at Austin. In 1964, Metcalfe graduated from Bay Shore Public High School. He graduated from MIT in 1969 with two B.S. degrees, one in Electrical Engineering and the other in Industrial Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He then went to Harvard for graduate school, earning his M.S. in 1970. While pursuing a doctorate in computer science, Metcalfe took a job with MIT’s Project MAC after Harvard refused to let him be responsible for connecting the school to the brand-new ARPAnet. At MIT’s Project MAC, Metcalfe was responsible for building some of the hardware that would link MIT’s minicomputers with the ARPAnet. Metcalfe was so enamored with ARPAnet, he made it the topic of his doctoral dissertation. However, Harvard flunked him. His inspiration for a new dissertation came while working at Xerox PARC where he read a paper about the ALOHA network at the University of Hawaii. He identified and fixed some of the bugs in the AlohaNet model and made his analysis part of a revised thesis, which finally earned him his Harvard PhD in 1973. Metcalfe was working at Xerox PARC in 1973 when he and David Boggs invented Ethernet, a standard for connecting computers over short distances. Metcalfe identifies the day Ethernet was born as May 22, 1973, the day he circulated a memo titled “Alto Ethernet” which contained a rough schematic of how it would work. “That is the first time Ethernet appears as a word, as does the idea of using coax as ether, where the participating stations, like in AlohaNet or ARPAnet, would inject their packets of data, they’d travel around at megabits per second, there would be collisions, and retransmissions, and back-off,” Metcalfe explained. Boggs identifies another date as the birth of Ethernet: November 11, 1973, the first day the system actually functioned. In 1979, Metcalfe departed PARC and founded 3Com, a manufacturer of computer networking equipment. In 1980 he received the Association for Computing Machinery Grace Murray Hopper Award for his contributions to the development of local networks, specifically Ethernet. In 1990 Metcalfe lost a boardroom skirmish at 3Com in the contest to succeed Bill Krause as CEO. The board of directors chose Eric Benhamou to run the networking company Metcalfe had founded in his Palo Alto apartment in 1979. Metcalfe left 3Com and began a 10 year stint as a publisher and pundit, writing an Internet column for InfoWorld. He became a venture capitalist in 2001 and is now a General Partner at Polaris Venture Partners. He is a director of Pop!Tech, an executive technology conference he cofounded in 1997. He has recently been working with Polaris-funded startup Ember to work on a new type of energy grid, Enernet.

Science Nerd

James D. Watson (American molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist) was born on April 6, 1928

James Dewey Watson is an American molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist, best known as a co-discoverer of the structure of DNA in 1953 with Francis Crick. Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”. After studies at the University of Chicago and Indiana University, he worked at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory in England, where he first met his future collaborator and friend Francis Crick. In 1956, Watson became a junior member of Harvard University’s Biological Laboratories, holding this position until 1976, promoting research in molecular biology. Between 1988 and 1992, Watson was associated with the National Institutes of Health, helping to establish the Human Genome Project. Watson has written many science books, including the textbook The Molecular Biology of the Gene (1965) and his bestselling book The Double Helix (1968) about the DNA structure discovery.