En el libro ‘Mathematical Apocrypha Redux’, de S. Krantz aparece la siguiente historia:
In Spring of 1996 a conference was held in Berkeley to honor the celebrated geometer S. S. Chern (1911-2004). The event was sponsored in part by Jim Simons (1938- ), a former mathematician who had opened a stock trading house (Renaissance Technologies, home of the famous Medallion Fund) and made a fortune on the market. Simons was there-he had written some famous papers with Chern in the 1960s and knew a number of the participants-and he got up at some point to say a few words. Simons is a bluff and hearty guy, and he had some fun regaling the audience with stories. He fondly recalled the days when he worked with Chern, developing the so-called “Chern-Simons invariants”, and he mentioned particularly what Chern had said when he was told that Simons was quitting mathematics. “Chern said, ‘Well, he’s no Hilbert’.” Simons thought this was really touching. He said, “You know, that’s really flattering. To be compared to Hilbert. He could have said, ‘Well, he’s no Hirzebruch,’ but he decided to crank it up a notch, and I’ve always been pleased about that.” Everyone in the audience found this extremely amusing–except for Hirzebruch (1927- ), who sat in the back and took it all in with a dour expression.