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Archive for August 21st, 2006

Good Will Hunting Lives In St. Petersburg

Posted by Mark on August 21, 2006

No this isn’t about Matt Damon. But the storyline out of Russia is not that dissimilar from the movie that made the screenwriter turned actor- famous.

A maths genius who won fame last week for apparently spurning a million-dollar prize is living with his mother in a humble flat in St Petersburg, co-existing on her £30-a-month pension, because he has been unemployed since December.

The Sunday Telegraph tracked down the eccentric recluse who stunned the maths world when he solved a century-old puzzle known as the Poincaré Conjecture.

Remember the scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon (disguised as the night janitor) solves an unsolvable?….a math puzzle that an M.I.T professor has put up on a chalkboard for his students? Okay…so this isn’t EXACTLY like the movie…but life does IMITATE art every now and then.

Grigory “Grisha” Perelman’s predicament stems from an acrimonious split with a leading Russian mathematical institute, the Steklov, in 2003. When the Institute in St Petersburg failed to re-elect him as a member, Dr Perelman, 40, was left feeling an “absolutely ungifted and untalented person”, said a friend. He had a crisis of confidence and cut himself off.

Other friends say he cannot afford to travel to this week’s International Mathematical Union’s congress in Madrid, where his peers want him to receive the maths equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and that he is too modest to ask anyone to underwrite his trip.

Dr Perelman has some small savings from his time as a lecturer, but is apparently reluctant to supplement them with the $1 million (£531,000) offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for solving one of the world’s seven “Millennium Problems”.

Of course…if Perelman starts acting crazy…hears voices and displays extreme anti-social behavior, we can change the title of the movie to: A Beautiful Mind.

On second thought….I wonder if he would consider immigrating to America…heck..he could fly to Mexico…take a bus to a border town, then walk across the border. Doesn’t take a MATH GENIUS to figure that out.

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