Dear Dr. Walter J. Palmer:
Because of your “adventure” in Zimbabwe, you are now the most “famous” dentist in the world. You recently have admitted to killing Cecil, a 13-year-old lion that is the best known lion in Zimbabwe. Cecil was lured from a wild life sanctuary with bait, shot with an arrow by you, tracked for 40 hours, and finally shot dead with a rifle and then beheaded and skinned. No doubt, this would be another trophy to add to your huge collection (you are known to be an experienced hunter with 43 kills of exotic animals under your belt). However, Cecil was wearing a GPS collar as part of a research project run by Oxford University. This meant that sooner or later the world would find out. The news of the killing stirred up a firestorm on the Internet and sparked outrage among conservationists and other people from all corners of the globe including Bloomington, Minnesota, where your dental practice is located. It is not hard to find negative news about you in news media and social media. I do not intend to dwell on the negative. I will let other people do that. Instead, I would like to focus on something of a positive nature. It appears that the days of big-game hunting are over for you. Perhaps you can switch to another type of hunt.
It appears that the days of big-game hunting are over for Dr. Walter J. Palmer.
Is it time to switch to another kind of hunting?
You are reportedly in hiding. Now you know what it is like to be hunted. Your dental business in Bloomington, Minnesota is, for the time being, shuttered. So this episode is costing you where it hurts, your pocket book. No doubt, you are hoping that the firestorm will eventually die down and you can go back to doing braces and implants.
Of course your trouble is not just limited to the pocket book. You have a real chance of being handed over to the Zimbabwe government, thanks to an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe that was signed by President Bill Clinton (I am sure the Zimbabwe authority is very eager to talk to you). Your actions in Zimbabwe could have violated the U.S. Lacey Act, a conservation law meant to shield animals from harm. So you could also be prosecuted in the US.
It is likely that Bloomington, Minnesota is no longer a viable location for your dental practice. You may think of relocating. You are the most famous dentist in the world at the moment, but for all the wrong reasons. Your notoriety will follow you wherever you go. In the age of social media on the Internet, do you think that you will be able to work as a dentist in relative peace and obscurity from now on? It is entirely possible that dentistry may no longer be a viable career option for you. Now the positive: your economic future is not all gloom and doom (your legal situation is another matter). There is another career option for you – becoming a mathematician. I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out.
You reportedly paid over $50,000 for the hunting trip that ended with the death of Cecil the Lion. You paid big bucks for the thrill of a kill. What did that get you? Nothing but troubles. Do you know there is another hunt that pays you $1 million dollars for each successful “kill”? You don’t need to shell out big bucks. They pay you big bucks for a successful hunt. As an avid hunter with a huge ego, I am sure your ears are perked up. Let you give you more details.
Clay Mathematics Institute proposed seven hard math problems at the start of the new millennium. Each of these seven problems comes with $1 million US dollars in prize money. These are the seven math problems. They are for real. They actually had put $7 million dollars in an account just in case someone comes up with valid solutions. Here’s the rule for the millennium prizes.
The dynamics of the math hunt are the exact opposite of the hunt for lion. With a successful hunt of the solution of one of these seven problems, there will be no outrage. Instead you will be an Internet and social media sensation. You will be a sought after speaker in international math conferences. You will be interviewed by all the notable media personalities and will appear in all the top news shows (not just in the United States but the world over). More importantly, there will be no need to hide. One million crisp green dollar bills are all yours if you solve just one math problem.
In short, solving one of these seven math problems is akin to winning the Nobel Prize (there is no Nobel Prize in the field of mathematics; so solving one of the Millennium problems is a good substitute). So a successful hunt means glory and adulation. Compare with the grief from the hunt of Cecil the Lion, I cannot see how you could turn this down. Of course, you probably cannot turn down $1 million USD. This is a win-win proposition.
Being a smart man that you are, you probably will figure out that these 7 math problems are no ordinary math problems. But you are no ordinary hunter. I cannot see why you will not be successful if you chase these math problems with the same zeal and the same relentlessness (and ruthlessness) in the chasing down of Cecil the Lion. Anybody who can graduate from dental school has the mental and intellectual capacity to become a mathematician (if he or she so chooses). You have the drive for the hunt for business and professional success and for the hunt for exotic animals in the wild. It is now time to apply the same drive in another kind of hunt.
If you are game, I will be happy to provide you with suggestions of where to begin – books and journal articles for you to start studying. Of course, you can also start with doing some Googling yourself. I know you are a self starter.
Some of these seven problems have been around for centuries. They are not a weekend project. Countless of mathematicians had tried in vain to hunt for their solutions. One of the problems is called the Riemann Hypothesis, which was proposed in 1859. Some of the best mathematical minds in the last 150 years had been actively hunting for a solution. You can join them in this hunt. There will be no more “canned hunt”. You will have to blaze your own trail where others had faltered. No one, even the best mathematical minds in the last centuries, can beat these problems into submission. Forget about the trophies that are mounted on the wall. Any one of the 7 millennium problems is the ultimate trophy.
One big difference between the math hunt and the big-game hunt that you are famous (or rather infamous) for. Some of your big-game hunts (including the most recent one) were based on trickery and illegality. You lured Cecil out of the protected sanctuary and killed him in a zone where hunting is not allowed. Math is an honest pursuit. Either you have the proof of a theorem or you don’t. Either you have the solution to the Riemann Hypothesis or you don’t. No amount of dirty tricks can alter the reality. The pursuit of math is a good antidote to your “win at all cost” mentality and can restore some sanity to your soul.
Without the burden that comes from running an active dental practice, I am sure you have a lot of time on hand. Why not put that to good use? If you are ever prosecuted and ended up with a lengthy prison sentence, it just means more time for your math hunt. You can turn your jail cell into a powerful math research center.
Remember: instead of slaying lions and tigers, you slay math problems. Instead of paying for the hunt, you get paid for the hunt. I know that you live for the thrill of the kill. Your new hunting career can begin today.