The 2009/10 Collingwood Lecture
Professor Sir John Ball FRS (Oxford)
"Mathematics in the Public Eye: the story of Perelman and the Poincaré conjecture"
Abstract: In August 2006 the Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman refused to accept the Fields Medal awarded to him by the International Mathematical Union at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid because of his ground-breaking work on the Poincaré conjecture, one of the most famous open problems of mathematics. More recently Perelman was awarded the $1 million Clay Prize, but it is unclear whether or not he will accept it. The lecture will describe the conjecture, the unusual events surrounding its proof, and how this unfolding story of mathematics and personalities continues to attract unprecedented worldwide media attention.