Alexander Grothendieck – Archetypal Neanderthal
|September 9, 2013||Posted by Koanic under face reading, Neanderthal Pride|
Holy shit. Alexander Grothendieck is the ultimate archetypal TT. Wow. Read his Wikipedia, it’s absolutely ridiculous:
Alexander Grothendieck (German: [ˈgroːtn̩diːk]; French: [gʁɔtɛndik]; born 28 March 1928) is a stateless mathematician born in Germany and raised in France, who is the central figure behind the creation of the modern theory of algebraic geometry. His research program vastly extended the scope of the field, incorporating major elements of commutative algebra, homological algebra, sheaf theory, and category theory into its foundations. This new perspective led to revolutionary advances across many areas of pure mathematics.
Within algebraic geometry itself, his theory of schemes has become the universally accepted language for all further technical work. His generalization of the classical Riemann-Roch theorem launched the study of algebraic and topological K-theory. His construction of new cohomology theories has left deep consequences for algebraic number theory, algebraic topology, and representation theory. His creation of topos theory has had an impact on set theory and logic.
One of his most celebrated achievements is the discovery of the first arithmetic Weil cohomology theory: the ℓ-adic étale cohomology. This key result opened the way for a proof of the Weil conjectures, ultimately completed by his student Pierre Deligne. To this day, ℓ-adic cohomology remains a fundamental tool for number theorists, with important applications to the Langlands program.
Grothendieck’s way of thinking has influenced generations of mathematicians long after his departure from mathematics. His emphasis on the role of universal properties brought category theory into the mainstream as an important organizing principle. His notion of abelian category is now the basic object of study in homological algebra. His conjectural theory of motives has been a driving force behind modern developments in algebraic K-theory, motivic homotopy theory, and motivic integration.
Driven by deep personal and political convictions, Grothendieck left the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, where he had been appointed professor and accomplished his greatest work, after a dispute over military funding in 1970. His mathematical activity essentially ceased after this, and he devoted his energies to political causes. He formally retired in 1988 and within a few years moved to the Pyrenees, where he currently lives in isolation from human society.
Politics and retreat from scientific community[edit source | editbeta]
Grothendieck’s political views were radical and pacifist. Thus, he strongly opposed both United States intervention in Vietnam and Soviet military expansionism. He gave lectures on category theory in the forests surrounding Hanoi while the city was being bombed, to protest against the Vietnam War (The Life and Work of Alexander Grothendieck, American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 113, no. 9, footnote 6). He retired from scientific life around 1970, after having discovered the partly military funding of IHÉS (see pp. xii and xiii of SGA1, Springer Lecture Notes 224). He returned to academia a few years later as a professor at the University of Montpellier, where he stayed until his retirement in 1988. His criticisms of the scientific community, and especially of several mathematics circles, are also contained in a letter, written in 1988, in which he states the reasons for his refusal of the Crafoord Prize. He declined the prize on ethical grounds in an open letter to the media.
While the issue of military funding was perhaps the most obvious explanation for Grothendieck’s departure from IHÉS, those who knew him say that the causes of the rupture ran deeper. Pierre Cartier, a visiteur de longue durée (“long-term guest”) at the IHÉS, wrote a piece about Grothendieck for a special volume published on the occasion of the IHÉS’s fortieth anniversary. The Grothendieck Festschrift was a three-volume collection of research papers to mark his sixtieth birthday (falling in 1988), and published in 1990.
In it Cartier notes that, as the son of an antimilitary anarchist and one who grew up among the disenfranchised, Grothendieck always had a deep compassion for the poor and the downtrodden. As Cartier puts it, Grothendieck came to find Bures-sur-Yvette “une cage dorée” (“a golden cage”). While Grothendieck was at the IHÉS, opposition to the Vietnam War was heating up, and Cartier suggests that this also reinforced Grothendieck’s distaste at having become a mandarin of the scientific world. In addition, after several years at the IHÉS Grothendieck seemed to cast about for new intellectual interests. By the late 1960s he had started to become interested in scientific areas outside of mathematics. David Ruelle, a physicist who joined the IHÉS faculty in 1964, said that Grothendieck came to talk to him a few times about physics. (In the 1970s Ruelle and the Dutch mathematician Floris Takens produced a new model for turbulence, and it was Ruelle who invented the concept of a strange attractor in a dynamical system.) Biology interested Grothendieck much more than physics, and he organized some seminars on biological topics.
After leaving the IHÉS, Grothendieck became a temporary professor at Collège de France for two years. A permanent position became open at the end of his tenure, but the application Grothendieck submitted made it clear that he had no plans to continue his mathematical research. The position was given to Jacques Tits.
He then went to Université de Montpellier, where he became increasingly estranged from the mathematical community. Around this time, he founded a group called Survivre (To Survive), which was dedicated to antimilitary and ecological issues. His mathematical career, for the most part, ended when he left the IHÉS.
Retirement into reclusion[edit source | editbeta]
Grothendieck was co-awarded (but declined) the Crafoord Prize with Pierre Deligne in 1988.
In 1991, Grothendieck moved to an address he did not provide to his previous contacts in the mathematical community. He is now said to live in southern France or Andorra and to be reclusive.
In January 2010, Grothendieck wrote a letter to Luc Illusie. In this “Déclaration d’intention de non-publication”, he states that essentially all materials that have been published in his absence have been done without his permission. He asks that none of his work should be reproduced in whole or in part, and even further that libraries containing such copies of his work remove them.
You can see the whole story from his body language in the bio shot. Sockets + occipital. Only things non TT about him are a somewhat aggressive chin and a touch of melon top. Not enough to override anything.
In fact, ancient Neanderthal skulls do exhibit this same top peak. So perhaps the parietal ambitious psychological effect is tied to the more backswept parietal, which on ancient Neanderthal skulls is conspicuously absent.
Compare Grothendieck’s biography to Nietzsche’s. A genius Thal must eventually retreat from the world.
And yes, “stateless” does mean he is not a citizen of any country. Well done.