Canadian math professor Jason Brown has defied experts who postulated that it would never be possible for a mathematician to blow years of his life studying minute trivia about the Beatles.
Growing up in the Toronto suburbs, Mr. Brown learned piano, but gave it up at age 12 for guitar, after hearing the Beatles' "Red Album," and becoming obsessed with the group. Like many Beatles fans, Mr. Brown was fascinated with the opening chord of "A Hard Day's Night." The chord has at least four sheet music variants, but nobody has ever quite replicated it, and the Beatles haven't revealed how they produced the complex sound. Mr. Brown said he spent hours experimenting before it occurred to him: "Music is basically just math."
Once he deduced that, it was only a matter of weeks of insanely technical calculations before he figured out the chord was made with a piano, and a guitar. Now he's moved onto rendering Beatles songs on graphs, another insanely technical and time-consuming process.
Brown has thus far not become a rock star as the result of his work. [WSJ]