For nearly 100 years, the Poincaré Conjecture remained an unsolvable math problem — stumping even the most brilliant minds on Earth. The Poincaré Conjecture is a problem that involves the geometry of multidimensional spaces and helped to explain the shape of our universe.
That’s why when Grigori Perelman, Russia’s math genius and one of the most famous recluses in the world, solved it in 2002, people were incredibly shocked. But it wasn’t just the fact that he finally cracked the equation that left folks so perplexed.
After solving the Poincaré Conjecture, Perelman ran away from the recognition and fortune that came with it. Regardless of his desire to live a reclusive lifestyle, mathematicians awarded him the Fields Medal in 2006, which is the most sought after prize in mathematics. Of course, he turned down the award — the only person to do such a thing since the awards were created in 1924. He also declined to teach at Berkeley and Princeton.
It was around that time he gave up on math entirely and moved back in with his mother, surviving off of her pension alone. Although me managed to stay out of the spotlight for a few years, the world never forgot about the man who solved the unsolvable math problem.
Four years later, he did something even more bizarre. In 2010, the Clay Mathematics Institute offered Perelman the organization’s first Clay Millennium Prize, which amounted to one million dollars.
Can you guess what he did then? Yet again, he refused the money, saying, “I know how to control the Universe. Why would I run to get a million, tell me?”
Some believe that he went insane in the process of trying to figure it out, while others think his reason for suddenly bowing out of mathematics was due to his frustration with the academic community.
According to Nautilus:
From the few public statements made by Perelman and close colleagues, it seems he had become disillusioned with the entire field of mathematics. He was the purest of the purists, consumed with his love for mathematics, and completely uninterested in academic politics, with its relentless jockeying for position and squabbling over credit. He denounced most of his colleagues as conformists.
His last known location was somewhere in Sweden, where he allegedly moved with his mother and stepsister in 2014.