When I say “best,” I mean coolest, funnest to read, most thought-provoking, etc. Not necessarily the most path-breaking. For example, did Andrew Wiles write a paper with the proof of Fermat’s last theorem? If so, I can’t imagine this would be readable. So, sure, it’s a great accomplishment but it’s not what I’m talking about.
But the paper has to be important in some way. It can’t just be readable. So, for example, I don’t know that Mark Kac’s classic, Can One Hear the Shape of a Drum?, would count, wonderful as it is.
Let’s make a list. Maybe we can put them all together into a fun book. Let’s start with these two:
1. Benoit Mandelbrot, How Long is the Coast of Britain?
2. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases.
Can you add more to the list? No jokes, please. The paper also has to be of high quality. For example, Bem’s 2011 paper on ESP was important, in a historical sense, but not scientifically important or interesting.