The Gregori Perelman Story: Balloon Boy Hoax For Nerds?

I have a new man-crush! This guy is my new hero …

Dr Grigori Perelman, a reclusive Russian genius, is refusing to accept the prestigious $1 million “Millennium” mathematics prize awarded by the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, MA.


Perelman was awarded the prize for solving the one-hundred-year-old Poincar√ɬ© conjecture, one of the most complicated mathematical problems in the world ….


The 44-year-old Perelman currently resides with his mother and sister in his hometown of St. Petersberg, living extremely humbly. One neighbor told a Moscow newspaper, “He always wears the same tatty coat and trousers. He never cuts his nails or beard. When he walks he simply stares at the ground, rather than looking from side to side.”


Another neighbor told of a time she had visited Perelman’s apartment due to problems with cockroaches ….


After performing some teaching in American universities in 2003, Perelman has apparently given up on mathematics, dismayed at the intellectual and moral failings of his peers. Instead, according to reports, he likes to play table tennis against a wall in his apartment. “You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms,” he told a journalist who managed to get in touch with him.

C’mon: Is this for real? It reads like a “Balloon Boy” hoax for nerds. This guy combines the best features of Immanuel Kant (everyone in town recognizes him walking around like a freak), Ludwig Wittgenstein (“Even though I’m a super-genius I’m quitting academia because it’s just a bunch of sellouts”), Rain Man (“1001010100001, I’m a human computer y’all”), and the Unabomber (“Watch me play ping-pong by myself”). It seems too glorious and crazy to be true.

Also, look at that photo. When I first saw it, I thought, “This must be an article about the latest advances in prosthetic eyebrows.” Instead you’re telling me that’s a real guy, who really looks like that? It seems suspiciously perfect — the Platonic ideal of what you imagine a reclusive-Russian-mathematician-who-turns-down-million-dollar-checks would look like.

I hope and pray that this is all a stunt perpetuated by someone who wants a reality show because that would be a great reality show! I hope it’s called “Long Russian Fingernails.”

“You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms.” That’s my new catch phrase.