NEW YORK, NY – There aren’t many people that would turn down a $1 million prize, but one math whiz felt like it was okay!
Our Russian lesson for the day is nyet, which means no. Not exactly the first thing that would come out of many people’s mouths when offered a $1 million prize, but it certainly came out of Grigory Perelman’s mouth. Perelman is a reclusive Russian mathematics genius. His lifestyle doesn’t make for stirring headlines, but he did when he decided to decline a lucrative math prize.
His decision was announced Thursday by the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Mass., which had awarded Perelman its Millennium Prize. The math whiz successfully solved the Poincare (pwan-kah-RAY) conjecture, which deals with shapes that exist in four or more dimensions.
Jim Carlos, the institutes president, said Perelman’s decision was not a complete surprise, since he had declined some previous math prizes.
Carlson said Perelman had told him by telephone last week of his decision and gave no reason. The Russian mathematician did tell Interfax his reasoning, however.
“To put it short, the main reason is my disagreement with the organized mathematical community,” Perelman told Interfax. “I don’t like their decisions, I consider them unjust.”
The Associated Press attempted to reach Perelman for comments, a resident of St. Petersburg, but were unsuccessful.