How good are you at solving equations?

Sometimes one just looks back and some events appear revelatory with respect to what the future will deserve. When I was a student at University of Rome “La Sapienza” I had the luck to learn the best from some of the best Italian scientists. My course on mathematical methods of physics was taught by Giovanni Jona-Lasinio (yes, that Jona-Lasinio). A day he entered the room to start the lesson. That day he decided he wanted to see how good we were at solving equations. So, he wrote an integral equation at the blackboard and asked us to give the solution. I looked at the equation just a while and loudly claimed:”The solution is 1!”. Jona stared at me with surprise. At my left was sitting Andrea Crisanti. He is presently associate professor at that same university and has given relevant results in statistical mechanics. He exclaimed: “There are two ways to solve an equation: with method and with luck”. He did not say exactly “luck” but the vulgar word we use for this case that makes this sentence surely more entertaining. So, a posteriori, taking a look at my work I should say that this is my gift. All my work in physics is based on a completely new approach to solve differential equations. And yes, I am lucky, all laws of physics are written through differential equations…

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