By Masha Gessen
In 2006, an eccentric Russian mathematician named Grigori Perelman solved one of many world's maximum highbrow puzzles. The Poincare conjecture is a really complicated topological challenge that had eluded the easiest minds for over a century. In 2000, the Clay Institute in Boston named it one among seven nice unsolved mathematical difficulties, and promised 1000000 funds to someone who may possibly discover a resolution. Perelman was once offered the prize this yr - and declined the cash. Journalist Masha Gessen was resolute to determine why. Drawing on interviews with Perelman's academics, classmates, coaches, teammates, and associates in Russia and the U.S. - and educated through her personal historical past as a math whiz raised in Russia - she got down to discover the character of Perelman's brilliant skills. In telling his tale, Masha Gessen has built a gripping and tragic story that sheds infrequent gentle at the distinctive burden of genius.
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Additional info for Perfect Rigour: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century
That kind of singleÂ�minded passion can look and feel very much like magic. Magicians need willing, impressionable subjects to work their craft. Rukshin, who was so wrong for the job of mathematics teacher for so many external reasons, cast about not just for the most likely child genius but also for the best way to prove he could make a mathematician out of a child. He focused his attention notÂ€on the loudest boy, or the quickest-Â�thinking boy, or the most fiercely competitive boy, but on the most obviously absorbent boy.
Whatever the reason, his not being a part of the military effortÂ€ left Kolmogorov free to devote his considerable energies to creating the world for mathematicians that he had envisioned since he was a young man. Kolmogorov and Alexandrov both hailed from Luzitania, Luzin’s magic land of mathematics, and they sought to re-Â�create it at their dacha outside of Moscow, where they would invite their students for days of walking, cross-Â�country skiing, listening to music, and discussing their mathematical projÂ� ects.
Some teachers came because their children attended the school; some were strong-Â�armed for the same reason. School 2 graduates recalled that when members of Moscow’s intellectual elite flocked to the school, the director set the price of admission: those parents who were college instructors had to offer electives at the school. As a result, the school’s bulletin boards overÂ�flowed with announcements of elective courses offered by some of the top names in various fieldsâ•›—â•›more than thirty courses at one time.