Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Scientific Breakthroughs of 2006

To continue this conversation about the state of science, here is an article that discusses the breakthroughs of 2006, starting with an award given to a mathematician for solving a 100-year-old mathematical mystery;

The work of a reclusive Russian mathematician who solved a 100-year-old mystery has been voted Breakthrough of the Year by Science, one of the world’s leading scientific journals.

Grigori Perelman published three articles on the internet more than three years ago claiming to have solved Poincare’s conjecture, a mathematical puzzle first identified in 1904 by the French mathematicican Henri Poincaré.

This year Dr Perelman won the ultimate accolade in mathematics – the Fields Medal – but refused to accept it, along with a separate prize of $1m (£530m) offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute in Massachussets, preferring to retreat to his mother’s flat in St Petersburg.

His proposed solutions to the conjecture, published in 2002 and 2003, were validated by other mathematicians in the field of topology – the science of surfaces.

“While bringing new results to topology, Perelman’s work brought new techniques to geometry,” said Science. “It cemented the central role of geometric evolution equations, powerful machinery for transforming hard-to-work-with spaces into more-manageable ones.”

So what do you think now? Has science had a bad year or a good one?

Cited story.

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin
    December 22, 2006

    I think science has had a rough year, though not necessarily an unsuccessful one. Sure, stem cell research is screwed up in this country, there were some cloning scandals, and more and more people seem to think ID is the way to go – but most of that isn’t science’s problem. It’s a people problem.

    Science marches on, and in the end it will prevail over ignorance and foolishness. I think the only way science has a bad year is if all the scientists quit. I don’t think we’re looking at a scientist shortage any time soon.

    Here’s to a better year for you, me, and science. Viva 2007. ;)

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