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Math The Almighty Buck Science

Perelman Urged To Accept $1m Prize 421

krou writes "The Warm Home charity in St. Petersburg, Grigory Perelman's home-town, has urged the math genius and recluse to accept the $1m Millennium Prize for solving the Poincaré conjecture, and donate it to charities. Perelman has refused to accept the award, telling one reporter through the closed door of his flat, 'I have all I want,' and another who managed to call him on his mobile, 'You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms.'"
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Perelman Urged To Accept $1m Prize

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  • An ordinary man... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:17PM (#31621482)

    ...can never understand/quantify what a genius wants.

  • Not for this reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beetle B. ( 516615 ) <`beetle_b' `at' `'> on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:25PM (#31621560)

    He's rejecting it on principled grounds. Regardless of what you think about those principles, he simply can't do this just for short term charity.

    When he rejected the Field's medal, he simply said to the effect of, "If I take the money, I'd be obligated to correct the wrongs I see, otherwise I'd be a hypocrite. I don't want to be the one making that crusade, so I have to reject the money." (Remember the scene in Thank You For Not Smoking?) It's a simple, logical response. He may be a recluse and all, but there's nothing strange about his refusal to take the money.

  • Mother and Sister? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:28PM (#31621608) Journal

    If he's jobless and living with his family, the least the foundation could do is contact his family and ask if they'd like the money for rent, food, etc. They're essentially paying for his work and even if he doesn't want the prize, they could give it to his family quietly so he can continue to do his work without someone having to worry about rent.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:33PM (#31621644) Homepage

    Quit bothering the guy already.

    He's sensible enough to know that if he accepts, people will want him to give speeches, attend talks, and will generally waste his time. Feynman once pointed out that winning a Nobel Prize meant that he heard from many people he really didn't want to talk to. Feynman sometimes gave talks under a pseudonym, so that only the people really interested in the subject matter would show up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2010 @11:38PM (#31621702)

    From what I can recall, his mother and sister are similarly minded as he himself is.

    Thus, they too would refuse the money.

    Is integrity such a rare thing these days, that everybody freaks the fuck out when they see it, call the person exhibiting it "Strange", and "Weird"?

    Because that is what seems to be happening from my vantage point.

    Seriously, just stop harassing the man. The doesn't want any prizes, additional prestige, or some fucking trophy for his wall. He solved the conjecture, his name will be in math books for the rest of eternity, and that is prize enough for him. Just leave him the fuck alone already.

  • Re:This is hilarious (Score:1, Interesting)

    by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @12:18AM (#31621924)

    "Patron saint of basement dwellers everywhere."

    I disagree, I think he's being a douchebag. Anyone with a head would take a million dollars and use it to alleviate suffering of others if he was a decent man. This is where I think his principles have blinded him to the fact that their are still a lot of problems in the world and he could be helping out people who need it with that million.

  • Re:This is hilarious (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Cassius Corodes ( 1084513 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @12:25AM (#31621966)
    He lives in a small apartment with his mother and doesn't talk to anyone. This is not a good life by any measure. He didn't behave like this before either - he went recluse as a response to the alleged behaviour of others in the mathematical community.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @12:58AM (#31622148)

    Isn't he in MORE danger by not accepting the money? Once he has it and gives it away, he can not get it back, so criminals have nothing to extort from him. But as long as he has the ability to collect and doesn't, he's a prime target: "listen, stupid, collect the cash and give it to us, or we'll hurt you and your family".

  • Re:I have an idea... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:10AM (#31622200) Journal
    "Am I the only one who thinks this guy is getting off on all the attention he is getting by pretending to be a recluse who doesn't want any attention or money."

    No there are a couple of other posters who also don't get it.

    Spinoza []..."is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism.....Spinoza is considered to be one of Western philosophy's most important philosophers...Spinoza lived quietly as a lens grinder, turning down rewards and honors throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions"
  • Re:This is hilarious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:13AM (#31622216)

    Perhaps I should turn in my geek card for not knowing or caring who he is but ...

    Really, sounds like the guy just wants to be left alone ... bugging him really isn't going to do anyone any good and he seems to be being awfully nice to people bugging the shit out of him and being otherwise very inconsiderate (stereotypical of reporters and the public at large).

    Stereotypical of geeks it may be, but I can certainly sympathize with him.

  • Re:This is hilarious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @01:14AM (#31622218) Journal

    I disagree, I think he's being a douchebag. Anyone with a head would take a million dollars and use it to alleviate suffering of others if he was a decent man.

    Well, supposedly that $1M is in the committee now. What's stopping them from giving it away to charities? It's not like, if Perelman refuses it, it magically disappears in a puff of smoke.

    I believe that his point is that he doesn't want that money as an award. Accepting it would come with strings attached - namely, the recognition of the practice, and the authority of those people to hand out such awards.

  • Re:An artform. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @02:23AM (#31622528) Homepage

    Shakespeare certainly didn't write for art. If he were alive today he'd be Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay. Throughout his life he made a reasonable living producing plays that had large audiences from all levels of society. He wasn't writing for posterity, he was writing to sell tickets, and his plays reflect that: Kings and Queens, forbidden love and betrayal, lots of opportunities for swordfights to be staged, and comedy that still holds up today if performed well.

    The only reason he seems like a God among writers is that, because he was popular, his plays survived. He wrote very little that was original in concept; he was constantly borrowing from other, earlier playwrights and from popular stories of the day. The (now) archaic English gives it a patina of high art, but that's our faulty perspective, not his intent.

    If that depresses you, it's only because in 500 years, there will be revival companies performing Top Gun and Die Hard rather than Driving Miss Daisy.

  • Re:This is hilarious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @03:45AM (#31622908)

    The ironic thing about you and your type is that it just re-enforces my beliefs that actually talking to people is a waste of time and will likely end up in people insulting me because I live in my mothers basement trying to improve my mind by doing programming assignments, practicing Mathematics, reading psychology, instead of socializing and gossiping and making value judgments on people.

    No, the really ironic thing is that you decry the judgment of other people, while you are highly judgmental of others.

    Not wanting to socialize with people is a GOOD thing, it isn't a bad thing. But, like usual, assholes like you will judge me by my ability and willingness to socialize, instead of by my intelligence, logic, or morality.

    You make it sound like intelligence and is somehow the opposite of socializing. It's not. Humans are social creatures. That's not a very intelligent thing to ignore. You live on a planet full of other people, and you depend on those other people for your continued survival.

  • by managementboy ( 223451 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @05:03AM (#31623250) Homepage
    What the comity could do is take the million and invest it at say 3%. Create a new price called the Perelman price and give the interests away to the winner every 5 years.
  • Re:This is hilarious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @05:11AM (#31623296)

    And apparently this gentleman has found that the only other people he really needs is his mother and whoever he has contact with through non-meatspace methods.

    That's simply not true. He needs the people who grow his food. He needs the people who help stabilize society, so he is not murdered or killed in a war.

    Let's live and let live, shall we?

    Did I ever say anything about not letting him live? All I did was note the irony of his condemning other people (calling them assholes, amongst other things) while at the same time bemoaning somebody passing less offensive judgment on somebody else.

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:19AM (#31623668) Journal
    It may be a good life for him, and that's all he thinks he needs. But that may not be so true for the people who are providing for his needs.

    No, I don't think he is providing for his needs (he doesn't look capable of doing it) - I think his mother and/or sister are/is.

    So if it were up to me, I'd actually use the money to provide a monthly stipend to his mother and sister (for as long as Perelman continues to be supported by them).

    Since he doesn't want the money, I think it's fair to give it to the ones who supported him, since without them he might not have survived to solve the problem.

    IMO giving a monthly amount is better than a lump sum. Since it is more likely that Perelman would benefit in the long term.

    I think it's also a good idea to give the mom and sister a one time sum of money as a gift - on top of that monthly amount.
  • Re:This is hilarious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:38AM (#31625228)
    It is also entirely possible he's rejecting the award out of spite, to get back at society and mainstream mathematics for perceived wrongs in the past. What proves your superiority more than out-doing them all, then spurning even their congratulations and awards. Passive-aggressiveness at its best. That would still be no crime, but it's much different than simply not caring.
  • Re:This is hilarious (Score:2, Interesting)

    by borroff ( 267566 ) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:52AM (#31625430) Journal

    I would think that very early on in his career, he may have realized that he works in a realm where very few people can be taught what he's currently working on. He may feel it's a better use of his time to push out the boundaries of knowledge, and let other folks do the teaching.

    I've met a number of physics Nobel Prize winners, and very few of the theoreticians were good teachers. Feynman was an outlier

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