The thoughts and memories below were collected from those contributions about Björn made on the Dignity Memorial website.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
When I heard the news I felt that a whole chapter of my life has been wiped out.
I arrived at Washington University as a graduate student and I walked into a wonderland inhabited by fairies and wizards.
The first memory I have of Bjorn is of him stepping out of Cupples II into the quadrangle holding his little daughter in his arms. It was a summer evening and students and faculty were gathering in the quadrangle to listen to a concert.
A year or so later it happened that I started to talk with Bjorn about a certain problem. We ended up talking about translations and dilations and about phi and psi. So long ago that I did not know, then, that we were talking about wavelets.
One day Guido called Bjorn and me to his office and he said that Bjorn was going to be my advisor. I am forever grateful to Guido for that. Bjorn was the best advisor in the world for me during the best of all possible times. He is one of the main people in my life. He was Bjorn talked with a clarity and transparency that I had never encountered before or after. When I talked with him I could see farther and my ideas acquired definition. It was invigorating to be around him. He seemed to draw on invisible sources of energy that became temporarily available to you too.generous and enthusiastic. He gave of his time, his insight, his advice.
Bjorn was never too tired or too busy to listen. I used to tell him about my idea of the day during the first coffee break, Swedish style, at 11 o’clock, in Holmes Lounge. We gathered, a few graduate students or young faculty, around one of the large round wooden tables. I never solved my problem during these talks but rather I replaced it with a new one. I used to talk with Bjorn about the new problem during the second coffee break at 3 o’clock. I also learned during one of these coffee breaks that Bjorn means bear in Swedish.
Bjorn told me once to go ahead and celebrate a theorem right away lest there be nothing to celebrate later. It was good advice given the volatility of my proofs. I wonder now whether he was talking from personal experience although that is hard to believe since his mathematical constructions seemed to me perfect from the first draft.
Bjorn was generous not only as a mathematician but also as a person. He helped us often, Dan and me, with the needs and concerns we had as young people in a new country.
During these last weeks almost anything I do reminds me of Bjorn. Whether I use LaTex, or Mathematica or whether I simply type three question marks in the middle of a file to remember that something is missing. Bjorn is alive in my memory. He is still the youthful man, brilliant and focused, that he used to be when I saw him for the last time in South Carolina.
I owe it to Bjorn that for a few magical years I had a beautiful mathematical life. I miss Bjorn.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Monday, September 23, 2013
Sunday, September 22, 2013
But, as the days passed, you could tell that his illness was a minor distraction from his dreams – more like a mosquito buzzing a picnic. Given all that befell him, you had to admire the sheer force of will that kept his dreams on track.
The suddenness of his departure, took some of us who talked to him daily by surprise. He never let on that he was slipping. Even in his parting moments, he issued directions and began designing his next project.
And then the Universe was still –