When the 11th-century poet Ferdowsi reaches the reigns of the Parthian Kings in his epic chronicle of the kings of Iran, he admits,


کزیشان جز از نام نشنیده‌ام
نه در نامه‌ی خسروان دیده‌ام
“About them I heard nothing but their name,
I saw nothing about them in the book of the Khosrows”

Just around the corner from Rome’s Pantheon, on the Via di Sant’Ignazio, is the famed Biblioteca Casanatense. Among its precious  books and manuscripts is an album of 76 striking watercolours made  in Goa around 1540, the work of an anonymous Indian painter for an unknown Portuguese patron.

Eugenia Cheng, author of the cleverly-titled x + y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender, is—goes Wikipedia—“a British mathematician, concert pianist, and an honorary fellow of pure mathematics at the University of Sheffield. Her mathematical interests include higher-dimensional category theory, and as a pianist she specialises in lieder and art song.” Her current gig is Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Even more daunting, her website features a stint on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.