It's amusing and interesting to be reading this during my less ambitious attempt to read the The Princeton Companion to Mathematics
. But I'm mostly making this post because I couldn't resist sharing this, from when Jacobs joins Mensa:
Of course, I'm terrified that I'll be rejected. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they'll send me a letter thanking me for my interest, then have a nice hearty laugh and go back to their algebraic topology and Heidegger texts and Battlestar Galactica reruns.
From britannica.com, it looks like the EB does not have an article titled "algebraic topology". But there are articles titled "topology" and "mathematics" with sections named "algebraic topology", and they do seem to have serious treatments of mathematics in there. Jacobs admits (p. 338) that "the math sections... are my bête noire.