Maths genius minus a million
News just in that Grigory Perelman, the remarkable and reclusive mathematician we wrote about back in March, has definitively turned down the million dollar prize offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute for proving the Poincare conjecture. He explained his decision by saying that another mathematician, Richard Hamilton, had made an equal contribution.
Of course, Perelman could have just given half the money to Hamilton. But let’s not quibble on the practicalities. Had he taken the money, the heroically elusive Perelman, just about the last human being alive bloody-mindedly determined to avoid the cameras, would have been somehow diminished: no longer a folk hero, instead a mere millionaire.
Anyone whose interest in Perelman is piqued by his invisibility – that’s the problem with turning down vast sums of money, people will tend to be more intrigued as a result – will love Sylvia Nasar and Daniel Gruber’s 2006 New Yorker piece about a pilgrimage to his home in St Petersberg after he made another memorable gesture in turning down the Fields Medal.Tagged in: Fields Medal, Grigory Perelman, Poincare Conjecture
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