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August 29, 2006



Perelman is extraordinary. I won't pretend to understand his achievement, I'm more impressed by his turning down the Fields Medal. It's nothing short of heroic to refuse recognition and money when one deserves them.
I fail to grasp the point entirely, to be honest.

It also strikes me how "mediated" our ideas of math are. In the New Yorker article, Yau calls press conferences all the time and Hamilton is portrayed as the playboy mathematician! You have
Stephen Hawking guesting on The Simpsons, and John "A Beautiful Mind" Nash, whose homosexuality was edited out of the screenplay. Huge egos + media= celebrity mathematicians + innumerate public.


Right -- I have tried to grasp the nature of Perelman's achievement but apart from it being something to do with a doughnut, I haven't got too far.

In the UK, views of mathematicians will forever be coloured by the breaking of the Enigma code by the mathematicians at Bletchley Park. These people probably made a greater contribution to winning the war than any other British individual, including Churchill. So much for irrelevant "boffins".

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They deserved it. Proper acknowledge is good.

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