Who would turn down a $1 million prize for solving a math problem?
Perhaps the smartest man in the world.
Three months ago, an impoverished Russian mathematician named Grigory Perelman was awarded the prestigious $1 million Clay Mathematics Institute Millennium Prize for his groundbreaking work - having solved a problem of three-dimensional geometry that had resisted scores of brilliant mathematicians since 1904.
Thursday, the institute announced that Perelman, known equally for his brilliance and his eccentricities, formally and finally turned down the award and the money. He didn't deserve it, he told a Russian news service, because he was following a mathematical path set by another.
The president of the Clay Institute, James Carlson, said that Perelman was a mathematician of "extraordinary power and creativity" and that it was he alone who solved the intractable Poincare's conjecture. "All mathematicians follow the work of others, but only a handful make breakthroughs of this magnitude," Carlson said.
Perelman, 43, who once did research and taught at a top Russian institute, lives in a bare-bones apartment in St. Petersburg with his elderly mother.
On its Web site, the Clay Institute says its leaders will make an announcement this fall about how the prize money will be used to benefit mathematics.
Capsule fails to link to space station
An unmanned Russian space capsule carrying supplies to the International Space Station failed in a docking attempt, Russian Mission Control and NASA said Friday. The Progress space capsule is carrying more than two tons of food, water and other supplies for the orbiting laboratory.
A spokesman for Russian Mission Control said only that the failure was due to an unspecified technical problem. NASA said the failure was due to an antenna problem. Another docking attempt is likely to be tried Sunday, the Russian space agency said.
Army ditches name of psych warfare
The U.S. Army has dropped the Vietnam-era name "psychological operations" for its branch in charge of trying to change minds behind enemy lines, acknowledging the term can sound ominous. The Defense Department picked "Military Information Support Operations," or MISO.
U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw said Thursday the new name, adopted last month, more accurately reflects the unit's job of producing leaflets, radio broadcasts and loudspeaker messages to influence enemy soldiers and civilians. The term "psychological operations" often led to a misunderstanding, he said.
8 Percent of federal workers who were Hispanic in June 2009. The Coalition for Fairness for Hispanics in Government has complained to the Obama administration that the number has been stagnant and the percentage of new Hispanic hires has been falling, from 9.2 to 7.3 percent in recent years.
THIS JUST IN
"Oil prices have been falling on disappointing economic news. Ironically, falling oil prices is the only good economic news most people have heard in a long time."
Jim Barach, political humor blogger (jokesbyjim.blogspot.com)