Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Russian refuses math's highest honor

  1. Aug 23, 2006 #1


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Rather sad if it's true.

    By DANIEL WOOLLS, Associated Press Writer
    Tue Aug 22, 6:20 PM ET

    MADRID, Spain - A reclusive Russian won the math world's highest honor Tuesday for solving a problem that has stumped some of the discipline's greatest minds for a century — but he refused the award.

    Grigory Perelman, a 40-year-old native of St. Petersburg, won a Fields Medal — often described as math's equivalent of the Nobel prize — for a breakthrough in the study of shapes that experts say might help scientists figure out the shape of the universe.

    John Ball, president of the International Mathematical Union, said that he had urged Perelman to accept the medal, but Perelman said he felt isolated from the mathematics community and "does not want to be seen as its figurehead." Ball offered no further details of the conversation.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060822/ap_on_re_eu/spain_math_genius [Broken]

    more information on what's happened

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  4. Aug 23, 2006 #3
    I can smell him just sitting here looking at his picture on a screen....:surprised :rofl: :biggrin:
  5. Aug 23, 2006 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It's says he appears to have given up on math, is unemployed, and has moved in with his mother living on her small stipend. :bugeye:
  6. Aug 23, 2006 #5
    To be fair that was in 2003, and since he's gone on to further prove his genius since then? I don't think he'll fade into obscurity, he just seems like a perfect mathematician to me, quietly working away, without need for plaudits, or money. Without need to tour and be egotistical, just constantly moving on to pastures more complex, I guess he just want's to solve the difficult problems and leave his free time to working on maths not working on PR.

    Perhaps one of the few subjects where an ego and greed gets in the way of the finer points of your work, after all you don't need to prove anything but the maths? Spend all your time sitting in a world of mathematical possibilities, not spending it with the wider community, after all he did well without them, his time is more important maybe?
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2006
  7. Aug 23, 2006 #6
    I read somewhere else that living with your parents is not out of the ordinary for orthodox Jews.

    I expect him to come around sooner or later and accept the awards and prizes. Right now he's still harboring hurt from losing his former position. Perhaps he's waiting for the people that fired him to come around and say they were wrong.
  8. Aug 23, 2006 #7
    "we mathematicians are all a bit crazy" -- paul erdos

    as a canadian (like fields) i would never turn down a fields medal. no canadian has won yet.
  9. Aug 23, 2006 #8


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    If I were negleted by the mathematics community, I wouldn't accept period.

    I'm a Canadian too.
  10. Aug 23, 2006 #9
    I wonder how he became "Isolated from the mathematics community" and who said he would become its "figurehead"?
  11. Aug 23, 2006 #10
    Truly inspired.
  12. Aug 23, 2006 #11
    He is going to regret this...

    ...How can a mathmatican be that stupid?
  13. Aug 23, 2006 #12

    I dunno. You do realize that Feynman and Dirac both wanted to refuse their nobel prizes at first right?
  14. Aug 23, 2006 #13
    Didn't know that.
    Can you post a link about that?
  15. Aug 23, 2006 #14
    Quoting Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

    I suppose that Feynman grew to dislike the media and wanted people to look at him as a physicist(while doing physics), and not as a nobel laureate. This is similar to how whenever he did anything not relating to physics, he went out of his way to make sure people didn't know he was a physicist.

    Sorry to go off topic here :shy:

    Crazy though, the medal is only awarded every four years... All that was important to him was proving the theorem...

    EDIT: With his monetary prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute, he could have put it towards charity/donated it to his university or something.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2006
  16. Aug 23, 2006 #15
    Feynman found the ordeal to be silly and tedious, but really had no serious intention of refusing to accept the prize. Furthermore, I remember reading that he, long before he actually recieved the prize, eagerly perused magazines to see if he had been chosen as a candidate for it.

    He has refused prizes in the past. He doesn't care about recognition. I would say his rejection merely furthered his contempt for the human affairs in math. Leave him alone. Let him do what he wants.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2006
  17. Aug 23, 2006 #16


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    He always hated awards and "high" status clubs.

    He said it all started when he was really young and they had this popular club in school. He wanted to be in it really bad, and one day he got in. When he went to a meeting, all they talked about who should be in next and who shouldn't join. He thought it would be all fun, but as it turns out, it wasn't and it was all about looking cool. Ever since then, he said that's how he felt about all the clubs. He also said (I believe/think) that things haven't changed much as he got older because even then that's all they did in "cool" clubs.
  18. Aug 23, 2006 #17
    i.e., if he doesn't want publicity, the least we can do is not give him any. This is all he asks for in return. Leave the man alone.
  19. Aug 24, 2006 #18


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Freaks make the best "geeks". He seems to have his heart tuned about right.
  20. Aug 24, 2006 #19
    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

    you are a linguistic virtuoso...you know that ?

    To bad you cannot earn big prize money with that.

  21. Aug 24, 2006 #20
    it is a bit of a paradox though isn't it; the whole process of being told you are good at something by a group of people effectively less great than you. You could argue that the prize winner is the only one really qualified to comment on the greatness his work

    I dunno, I'm with Feynman and Co. on this one, way to go I say.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook