The cleverest man lives in St. Petersburg. It has become recently known that the mathematician Grigory Perelman was named the primary candidate to this title. Izvestiya first wrote about him in 2003, when he managed to solve one the top seven problems of the millennium: to describe mathematically the “Formula of the Universe.” Now Perelman is eligible to receive a million dollar award.
The ceremony on honor of the most intelligent man on the planet is going to take place in Madrid on August 22 right after the session of the International Mathematical Association. This Association wit the support of a private mathematical college in Boston generated a special award of the Fields Medal plus the $1 million prize for those who solved the millennium’s most difficult problems.
Perelman, 40, succeeded in proving the Puankare Hypothesis (otherwise known as the “Formula of the Universe) which was originally formulated in 1904. Some of the best minds have been struggling with it for over a century.
Grigory Perelman was born in St. Petersburg in a family of white-collar workers. Even during his school years he knew math better than any of his educators. “But Grisha never boasted of his talent. He is a very modest and humble man, perhaps even too humble,” explains Tamara Efimova, his former teacher. Without having to pass any exams Perelman was accepted into the mathematical college of St. Petersburg State University.
Recently he resigned from his position at Steklov’s Institute. “Many have pleaded with him to stay but his decision was permanent,” – comments an employee, who asked to remain anonymous. As he was quitting, Perelman told his co-workers not to give the media any commentaries.
The extraordinary man is highly respected in the mathematical circles abroad but some consider him “a little mad” after he refused to accept the European Mathematical Award. It is believed he found the jury not qualified enough to judge his works.
“This man is an introvert. Perhaps sometimes he gives an impression of a slightly insane person. But madness is not a vice. On the contrary, it is the quality of all bright mathematicians,” comments Eugene Damaskinsky, also a mathematician and an employee of Steklov’s Institute.
In his view Perelman is capable of rejecting both the medal and the money award. “If it turns out that he has to go through some humiliating bureaucratic procedures, he may very well refuse to accept the money. And besides, would the Russian scientist Perelman want to find himself in the company of those who already received this award? I am not sure that being considered the most intelligent man by some private American college is very honorable.”
Translated by Natalia Vysotskaya