Sheer intellectual brillance

I was privileged to know Jon Borwein and to work with him in an extremely modest capacity for just a few all-too-short years. Though I’m woefully ill-equipped to comment on the grandeur of his mathematical achievements except to recognize the compelling acclaim that they have attracted universally, at a personal level I can attest to the sheer intellectual brilliance of a man who could converse intelligently on virtually every conceivable subject that would ever arise in conversation. Jon’s brain evidently functioned several orders of magnitude faster than most, his memory retained incomprehensibly greater amounts of information, and he could communicate more information per unit of time than anyone else I’ve ever known. He was a voracious reader and was likely to have read at least a dozen more books in the short time since one last spoke to him. And yet, genius that he was, he was an immensely personal and personable friend and colleague. Even when he “held the floor”, as he generally did, he had a beautiful way of listening to my own modest experiences before sharing one of his own, which he did with an irresistibly ingenuous enthusiasm. Touchingly, he would periodically address me by my first name in the midst of these exchanges, not something that possessors of great intellects are always wont to do. Jonathan Borwein has left an incalculable legacy to humanity but for me in particular he has left indelible memories of a cherished friendship with a great man. [Gerry Joseph, Australian Department of Defence]

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