[Observing the first-year anniversary of my departure from Oswego (and the U.S.) on 10-10-08, I post here the translation of a note published in "Tell Me A Story" (SportDay, Athens, 6-28-09).]

Late Saturday night, 13 December 2003, I received an e-mail from a retired physicist colleague about an article by Gina Kolata in the Sunday New York Times concerning a puzzle in the Archimedes palimpsest that had gone almost unnoticed, the notorious 'stomachion': 14 simple geometrical shapes, most of them triangles, that can be merged into a square in 268 radically different ways! A discovery equally important, I believe, to the Antikythera Mechanism: they both demonstrate that the scientific knowledge of our ancestors was dramatically deeper than we previously assumed...

The electronic version of Gina Kolata's article did not include the 14 shapes, so I had to wait for several hours in order to buy the regular edition and watch this contemporary as well as ancient mathematical drama unfold. I found out that this was a first-page article, what a joy for a mathematician... But there was some earth-shattering news missing from that same first page, a development that reached the world that Sunday dawn, Saddam Hussein's arrest in a tomb-like crypt in Iraq! I thought at once that the expected 16-hour delay in the announcement of the Iraqi dictator's arrest kept Archimedes in the first page: the paper wasn't going to wait for another Sunday with more space on its first page.

The "Saturday night in the office" I just narrated is not necessarily the most interesting in my twenty-year career at the state university of New York, but it seems to be the most memorable. I do not know whether I was busy with some mathematical problem, but I do recall that I exchanged many e-mails of linguistic content with my Greek-Australian friend and collaborator Nick Nicholas until 5:30 in the morning: I barely missed the news about Saddam's arrest, for I always checked the latest internet news before going home!

Five and half years later, and with the American Dream behind me, various electronic means assist me in recalling that weekend with greater clarity: I can for example find details on Saddam's arrest and stomachion research, as well as certain e-mails sent to friends on both issues. I note that the stomachion hasn't yet turned into a book or game, as I expected, while Saddam's arrest has all but simplified the situation for the U.S. in Iraq. Both events have faded considerably with the passage of time, but the computer and the internet, these virtual mind-crutches, revive them, like so many other events in our life, to a degree determined by random details...



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