Voltaire (4) vs. Benoit Mandelbrot; Veronica Geng advances

Yesterday‘s contest was surprisingly tough. I thought of Santa-man and the inventor of the Monte Carlo method as both being strong candidates—but the best comments on both were negative. Phil argued convincingly that there’s no point in inviting Sedaris to speak at Columbia as there are lots of other opportunities to hear the guy, and Ethan pointed out that Ulam co-invented the H-bomb, which is something we really didn’t need. So, much as I’d love to hear Ulam’s comments on the Monte Carlo method, or Sedaris on just about anything (except maybe his complaints about flying first class)—but given the comments we’ve seen, I can’t in good conscience advance either to Round 2. So I’ve decided to advance Veronica Geng for this bracket; I still feel bad for not choosing her the other day.

Today we have the fourth-seeded wit, the man who will defend to the death your right to say it, competing against the inventor of fractals, in my opinion (see here and here) one of the great mathematicians of the twentieth century, which I say even though various snobby math professors might disagree. I’m sure that proving a longstanding conjecture in number theory is a more impressive technical feat than inventing fractals, but, to me, inventing fractals is more of a big deal and more of a creative contribution.

Anyway, I think either Voltaire or Mandelbrot could give a good speech. What do you think?

Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:

We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.

I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!