The Anti-Hero

April 12, 2010

Torah Kachur

There is a recluse, and then there is....this guy.

           Grigori Perelman Grisha Fields Medal Poincare conjecture Torah Kachur Science in Seconds

Who is 44 years old and lives at home....with his mother.


Dr. Grigori (Grisha) Perelman is one brilliant dude.  In 2006, he was offered the Fields Medal in Mathematics for his contributions to geometry and Ricci flow eventually solving the Poincaré Conjecture, and he was recently offered the first Clay Millenium Prize Problems award.  Together worth $1,015,000 USD.  But more importantly, these awards are the most prestigious honors a mathematician can get....that and a date with the hot chick off Numb3rs.


He rejected both.


His reason?  "'I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo. I'm not a hero of mathematics. I'm not even that successful; that is why I don't want to have everybody looking at me.'" one is looking at you.. you are a mathematician.


And, you ARE that successful. The Poincaré conjecture has been around since postulated by Henri Poincaré (duh) in 1904, who stated that every loop can be shrunk to a point.  For example, a 2-D sphere (ie. a circle) that is constant can be slowly reduced to a point.  Similarily, a 3D sphere can be shrunk to a point eventually - both of these are simple and constant topologies.  But, what Poincaré couldn't figure out is what would happen if the sphere was discontinuous - say like a doughnut. The figure below shows that neither loop can constrict the shape to a point.  So now what?

       Torus cycle poincare conjecture Perelman Fields medal

It took about 100 years...but Perelman did it.


And now, he doesn't leave the house.


In a way, you have to admire the guy.  He has stuck to his principles and has done exactly what he wants to do.  On the flipside, you kinda have to feel sorry for him too - a serious troubled genius, too smart to even go outside and deal with us pitiful humans. 



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