The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Grigory Perelman and the Millenium Prize.

Dr. Perelman, the famously reclusive mathematician has done it again: he has been awarded the first Millenium Prize for the proof of the Poincare Conjecture that a sphere is the only three dimensional enclosed space that does not have any "holes". This, apparently, was a very tough problem and Dr. Perelman has provided an elegant proof. Thus, he deserves the prize - however, the problem is he may just refuse it.

Dr. Grigory Perelman has a history of shunning the accolades that his profound work accrues. He refused, for instance, to attend a Fields Medal ceremony to receive that prize. It seems that he didn't want the fuss that went with earning such an honour. So, he stayed at home in St. Petersburg, where he lives with his mother.

This time, however, the prize in question, the Millenium, comes with one million dollars attached. The general view is that Dr. Perelman may very well turn this down as he has yet to say that he will accept the prize. I hope that he accepts it, for the circumstances of his life cannot be easy. Dr. Perelman has been unemployed for several years and has turned down all offers of work. It may be that he wishes to be totally free to pursue his ideas. Yet, not having an income and living with one's mother in one's forties cannot be an easy life. It may be that Dr. Perelman's financial circumstances may be affecting his ability to give of his best and do the best work he can.

For those who have never had money - as I assume Dr. Perelman has not - it is difficult to understand the freedom that comes with having money. The one million US dollars of the prize would ensure that Dr. Perelman need not have any financial worries and would allow him to pursue his work, fully. It may even buy him extra peace and the ability to secure further privacy, should he require it. I doubt that he will ever read my words, but I hope that, uncharacteristically, he accepts this prize for the freedom it will give him to focus more clearly, upon his work and live a life of peace.

It seems that Dr. Perelman fears celebrity. Well, he won't become one, in any real sense, since the times that he comes to public attention are too far apart. People forget a face that they do not see regularly. Thus, he has no real worries in the celebrity department. His fears are needless and groundless. Indeed, the money that the prize awards could be used to allow him to live an even more secluded life, if he so wished it.

I understand his concern, however. A thinker needs peace and quiet in which to contemplate. He fears that if he begins to accept the prizes offered to him, that he will lose that peace. On the contrary, I think he will have the power to gain greater peace, for a life of financial restriction is not one that anyone would call peaceful. He must have limitations that could be overcome were he to simply accept the prizes that his work deserves.

I am concerned, though, to note that several self-interested parties (one of which I understand is the St. Petersburg Communist Party) have urged him to donate the money to them, should he not want it, to "alleviate poverty". These are, I think, very selfish requests. There is already poverty to be alleviated, in this situation - Dr. Perelman's. He has earned these prizes and it seems, to me, to be somewhat evil, that various organizations should be urging him to give them, his well deserved money. I hope he doesn't heed them and sees that his need is greater than their own. It seems to me to be more important to free one genius to work, to his best, than to spread one million dollars thinly across the hundreds of thousands of poor people in St. Petersburg. The money would make a great difference to Dr. Perelman - but not one bit of difference to have it spread across so many others.

So, Dr. Perelman, if you ever read these words, I urge you to accept the money - though not necessarily to actually attend any ceremonies. The money will give you more freedom than you are presently able to imagine.

Happy thinking.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

My Internet Movie Database listing is at:
Ainan's IMDB listing is at
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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:20 PM 


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