Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Major Problem Solved?

There are about 7 major problems in Mathematics that have been around for a century or so and have a $1 million reward if solved.

It looks like one of them has been solved.

In 1904, the brilliant Henri Poncare (the other great mathematician of his era was David Hilbert) came up with a conjecture in topology regarding the 3-sphere. Basincally it says that the 3-sphere is unique among all 3-D manifolds. A young (all great mathematics is done at a very early age) Russian mathematician named Grigori Perelman posted his proof and has been defending it the last 2 years. It looks like it is accurate.

It is possible that our universe might have the shape of a 3-sphere. The math behind the new proof may influence particle physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Scientific American has a great explanation and even a primer on topology in the July issue.

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