This is a (far too long) comment on Buzzard's comment about Hida's remark.

I think I can guess what Hida was saying. He was probably talking about non-vanishing of L-functions of Hecke eigenforms of level one and weight $k \equiv 0$ (mod 4). This is a long-standing (folklore? ) conjecture in its own right, well-known among analytic number-theorists.

Here is how such a thing can be proven using Maeda's conjecture. There is a result of Shimura that says that the Galois group acts nicely on the central values (in fact any critical value) L-function of eigenforms. In particular, if one of them is zero then all the Galois twists are also zero and hence their sum is also zero. Now, even though it may be difficult to show that an L-function doesn't vanish at the centre, it is often easy to show that the sum of the central values of L-functions in a family is non-zero (see, for example, the work of Rohrlich and Rodriguez-Villegas on non-vanishing of L-functions of Hecke characters).

In the case in question, Maeda's conjecture will imply that if one central L-value is zero then the sum of all the central L-values over the whole basis must be zero and I think a contradiction will ensue after one uses the approximate functional equation to write the central value in terms of the Fourier coefficients and then using the Petersson formula ( I need to check this up).

Note 1: There is an article by Conrey and Farmer titled "Hecke operators and nonvanishing of L-functions" (Ahlgreen et al. (eds.), Topics in Number Theory, 1999) where they prove the above mentioned result along a different line.

Note 2: I think the following is easier. One can think of $f\rightarrow L(f,k/2)$ as a linear functional on the space of cusp forms $S_k(\Gamma(1))$ and indeed it is possible to explicitly write a function $G$ such that

$L(f,k/2)=\langle f,G \rangle$

for all Hecke eigenform $f$ in $S_k(\Gamma(1))$. Now Maeda + Shimura's result will imply that $G$ is orthogonal to the whole space and therefore zero. So it is just a matter of checking that $G$ is not identically zero, which shouldn't be too hard.

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