Mathematician turns down $1 million prize

Mathematician Dr. Grigory Perelman has turned down the $1 million prize offered by the U.S. Clay Mathematics Institute to those who successfully solve some of the greatest mysteries in mathematics.  In this case, Dr. Perelman solved what is called the Poincaré Conjecture.  Earlier for this same accomplishment, he was awarded the prestigious Fields Medal in 2006, which he also turned down.

I know that “Poincaré Conjecture” sounds like just another obscure mathematical idea (and if you read about it, you might understandably continue to think so), but solving it is a big deal.  The conjecture had gone unproven for more than 100 years, the journal Science declared its proof to be the scientific “Breakthrough of the Year” (according to Wikipedia, the first time that honor had been given to a work of mathematics).

You can read about it here at the UK’s Mail Online: “World’s cleverest man turns down $1 million prize after solving one of mathematics’ greatest puzzles”

The article has a nice video explaining the Poincaré Conjecture as well as discussing the “man of mystery” who solved it.  It mentions that the year Dr. Perelman turned down the Fields Medal, he said, “I don’t want to be on display like an animal in a zoo.”  Ironically, his refusing of the prizes has probably made him more of a subject of interest than he would have been had he accepted them.

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3 thoughts on “Mathematician turns down $1 million prize

  1. In other words, “the world’s cleverest man” outsmarted himself. Hah. We often do that, don’t we, as human beings? 😀

    Even I have heard of that Conjecture (though I couldn’t tell you what it’s about without looking it up), and of its solution. A million dollars? Hey, for money like that and for being called “the world’s cleverest man” on top of it, I’d do a LOT.

    Why then is it that as a Christian apologist, I feel as if I’ve solved even deeper mysteries? 🙂 I don’t see anyone standing at my door with such ridiculous amounts of cash in hand for them, however. 😀 So little is trying to learn God’s wisdom valued in this world!

  2. Norbert

    Too funny rakkav, “the world’s cleverest man outsmarted himself”.

    It’s not as if during a somewhat popular conversational point between people where the question is asked, “what would you do if you won the lotto?” So far in my experience I haven’t heard any one say that they would tear up the ticket and burn it. However in one sense I would have to admire his decision, that is the man practiced what he believed in.

  3. @Norbert: I actually wrote a rather acerbic comment in the DailyMail Online’s comment box, when I saw what had been said before. People were going to really radical extremes with regard to his behavior. Either they would be extremely sarcastic in tone (and often faux-idiotic in word) about his unkempt appearance and cockroach-infested apartment, or they would rave on about how good it was to live the life of the mind without concerns for such things.

    @WS as well: What I basically said (and you can read it for yourself under the comment signed “jr” for “Johanan Rakkav”, I believe) is, “With all due respect, are you people listening to yourselves?”

    Afterward I thought, “This Russian is probably a Jungian INTP, which means cleverness is his middle name – but which also means he has real trouble, as a point of his brand of human nature, in attending to daily affairs. And he’s also going to be shy about dealing with people, ironically drawing more attention to himself than he really wants in so being.”

    There are days when being a Jungian ENFP, with the strengths and weaknesses that come with that mental construction, doesn’t look so bad. This morning for me is one of them, thanks to this news item. Huzzah for the discovery, but *c’mon*, Dr. Perelman, fame and fortune have their uses…:D

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