Saturday, March 27, 2010

Math Genius refuses 1 Million Prize

Dr Grigori Perelman, a reclusive Russian genius, is refusing to accept the prestigious $1 million "Millennium" mathematics prize awarded by the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, MA.

Perelman was awarded the prize for solving the one-hundred-year-old Poincaré conjecture, one of the most complicated mathematical problems in the world - so complex, in fact, that after Perelman posted his proofs in 2002 it took several years for other experts to confirm he was correct.

Now Perelman's refusal to accept the prize - the second prestigious prize he has refused - has led some to examine his unorthodox life and dub him "Mathsputin."

The 44-year-old Perelman currently resides with his mother and sister in his hometown of St. Petersberg, living extremely humbly. One neighbor told a Moscow newspaper, "He always wears the same tatty coat and trousers. He never cuts his nails or beard. When he walks he simply stares at the ground, rather than looking from side to side."

Another neighbor told of a time she had visited Perelman's apartment due to problems with cockroaches.

"I was once in his flat and I was astounded," she said. "He only has a table, a stool and a bed with a dirty mattress which was left by previous owners -- alcoholics who sold the flat to him."

After performing some teaching in American universities in 2003, Perelman has apparently given up on mathematics, dismayed at the intellectual and moral failings of his peers. Instead, according to reports, he likes to play table tennis against a wall in his apartment. "You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms," he told a journalist who managed to get in touch with him.

From Wolfram's Mathworld:

Poincaré Conjecture

In its original form, the Poincaré conjecture states that every simply connected closed three-manifold is homeomorphic to the three-sphere (in a topologist's sense) , where a three-sphere is simply a generalization of the usual sphere to one dimension higher. More colloquially, the conjecture says that the three-sphere is the only type of bounded three-dimensional space possible that contains no holes. This conjecture was first proposed in 1904 by H. Poincaré (Poincaré 1953, pp. 486 and 498), and subsequently generalized to the conjecture that every compact -manifold is homotopy-equivalent to the -sphere iff it is homeomorphic to the -sphere. The generalized statement reduces to the original conjecture for .

The Poincaré conjecture has proved a thorny problem ever since it was first proposed, and its study has led not only to many false proofs, but also to a deepening in the understanding of the topology of manifolds (Milnor). One of the first incorrect proofs was due to Poincaré himself (1953, p. 370), stated four years prior to formulation of his conjecture, and to which Poincaré subsequently found a counterexample. In 1934, Whitehead (1962, pp. 21-50) proposed another incorrect proof, then discovered a counterexample (the Whitehead link) to his own theorem.

The case of the generalized conjecture is trivial, the case is classical (and was known to 19th century mathematicians), (the original conjecture) appears to have been proved by recent work by G. Perelman (although the proof has not yet been fully verified), was proved by Freedman (1982) (for which he was awarded the 1986 Fields medal), was demonstrated by Zeeman (1961), was established by Stallings (1962), and was shown by Smale in 1961 (although Smale subsequently extended his proof to include all ).

The Clay Mathematics Institute included the conjecture on its list of $1 million prize problems. In April 2002, M. J. Dunwoody produced a five-page paper that purports to prove the conjecture. However, Dunwoody's manuscript was quickly found to be fundamentally flawed (Weisstein 2002). A much more promising result has been reported by Perelman (2002, 2003; Robinson 2003). Perelman's work appears to establish a more general result known as the Thurston's geometrization conjecture, from which the Poincaré conjecture immediately follows (Weisstein 2003). Mathematicians familiar with Perelman's work describe it as well thought-out and expect that it will be difficult to locate any substantial mistakes (Robinson 2003, Collins 2004). In fact, Collins (2004) goes so far as to state, "everyone expects [that] Perelman's proof is correct."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Broke Pro Athletes

Seven costly pro athlete screw-ups

Almost 80 percent of National Football League players are flirting with bankruptcy two years after they retire, according to Sports Illustrated. NBA players aren’t faring much better. 60 percent of former National Basketball Association players end up broke within five years of retirement. Athletes squander millions of dollars due to bad decisions, lavish spending and poor financial planning. Here is a list of athletes that have lost their fortunes through some of the biggest financial blunders of all time.

Scottie Pippen

Known more for his on court defense than his off court business sense, former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen lost $120 million in career earnings due to poor financial planning and bad business ideas. Air Jordan’s sidekick blew $27 million on bad investments and spent $4.3 million on a Gulfstream II corporate jet.

Evander Holyfield

Four-time boxing champ Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield reportedly made over $250 million in cash during his boxing career, but despite this he reportedly is flat broke. Holyfield lost all his money by making “smart” business decisions look really foolish. You thought buying a house was a smart move? It normally is, but not when you buy a house the size of Rhode Island. Holyfield bought a $20 million house with over 54,000 square feet and 109 rooms. The house has 11 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, a movie theater, a bowling alley and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Imagine how much it must cost to cut the grass on all 235 acres! You could buy a Range Rover with the electric bill payment alone.

Lenny Dykstra

Former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies star Lenny “Nails” Dykstra was a success on the baseball diamond, but in the business field Dykstra has struck out. Dykstra’s failed businesses include car washes, a magazine company, real estate investing and a stock trading website. According to Dykstra’s July 2009 bankruptcy filing, he owed more than $30 million to creditors, including his $18.5 million purchase of Wayne Gretzky’s home. The amazing part is that after two foreclosed homes and numerous failed businesses Dykstra is offering the investment advice that led him into bankruptcy for a mere $899 a year! In the investment world, it is often said that past history does not dictate future performance. Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear Dykstra isn’t the guy to go to for advice.

Latrell Sprewell

Look up the word “shortsighted” in the dictionary and you will see a picture of Latrell Sprewell. He famously turned down a $21 million contract because he said it wasn’t enough money to feed his family. Sprewell, who made over $96 million during his career, lost his $1.5 million dollar Italian yacht, named “Milwaukee’s Best”, in 2007. According to MSNBC, a U.S. marshal seized the yacht after Sprewell defaulted on his mortgage. His $5.4 million house went into foreclosure in May 2008. Don’t blame Sprewell for turning down the three-year, $21 million contract though. I mean really, who could live off a measly $7 million a year?

John Daly

Two-time PGA major champ John Daly gambled away between $50 and $60 million in career earnings, according to his 2006 autobiography. Daly once lost $1.65 million in five hours playing the slot machines at a casino. If you think that’s impressive, there’s more. Daly blew $1.2 million in a mere two hours and 30 minutes at a casino in Las Vegas. He just had his $1.6 million house foreclosed on. Did Daly quit gambling after blowing so much cash at the casino tables? Not by a long shot. Instead, he decided to downgrade from the $5,000 slot machines to the $100 and $500 machines. It looks in John Daly’s world, that is considered sound financial planning.

Jack Clark

Former professional baseball slugger Jack Clark was driven into bankruptcy in 1992 by his appetite for luxury cars. According to his bankruptcy filing, he owned 18 luxury automobiles, including a $700,000 Ferrari and a Rolls Royce. Clark was trying to pay 17 car notes simultaneously, and whenever he got bored with a car he would get rid of it and just buy another one. He ended up losing million-dollar homes and his drag-racing business because of his extravagant spending habits, but despite one of the most publicized bankruptcies in baseball, Clark reportedly got back on his feet in the late ’90s.

Mike Tyson

The king of them all is boxer Mike Tyson, who squandered a $350 million to $400 million dollar fortune. So what did “Iron” Mike spend his fortune on? Everything. He dropped half a million dollars on a 420-horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. It is one of only 73 Bentley Continental SCs ever built. The sad part is that’s not even the only Bentley that Tyson owned! He spent over $4.5 million dollars on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million dollar bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune is down for the count. He filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Epic Beard Man the Documentary

Remember Tom Bruso, the Epic Beard Man? Here's the mini-documentary on him. Here's the link

Part 1

Part 2

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fertile Old Men Destroying Human Gene Pool

Dad's age links strongly to problems in offspring, including autism, schizophrenia and cancer
By Mark Teich | Psychology Today Magazine
Published: 1/7/2008 12:08 AM

Women have long understood that general fitness and age are critical to conceiving a healthy child. But their partners often feel absolved of such concerns; men tend to think they can drink, carouse, smoke like coal trains, and conceive whenever they want, with no impact on fertility or their future offspring.

Would that it were so.

"Everybody was familiar with the concept of women's biological clock, but when we introduced 'male' to the equation, the reaction was, 'What are you talking about?'" recalls urologist Harry Fisch, director of the Male Reproductive Center at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and author of "The Male Biological Clock." "It became a social issue. Men do not like to be told they have a problem."

Nonetheless, a virtual tidal wave of recent research has made it irrefutable: Not only does male fertility decrease, especially after age 35, but aging sperm can be a significant and sometimes the only cause of severe health and developmental problems in offspring, including autism, schizophrenia and cancer.

The older the father, the higher the risk.

"Men thought they were getting off scot-free, and they weren't. The birth defects caused by male aging are significant conditions that can cause a burden to families and society," says Ethylin Wang Jabs, professor of pediatric genetics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and leader of a recent study showing the link between aging paternity and certain facial deformities in offspring.

"We now know that men and women alike could be increasing the risk of infertility or birth defects by waiting too long to have children," Jabs said.

In the past several years, studies worldwide have found that with each passing decade of their lives and with each insult they inflict on their bodies, men's fertility decreases, while genetic risk to offspring slowly mounts. The range of findings is staggering: Several studies have shown that the older the man, the more fragmented the DNA in his ejaculated sperm, resulting in greater risk for infertility, miscarriage or birth defects.

Investigations in Israel, Europe and the United States have shown that nonverbal intelligence might decline exclusively due to greater paternal age; that up to a third of all cases of schizophrenia are linked to increasing paternal age; and that men 40 and older are nearly six times more likely to have offspring with autism than men under age 30. Other research shows that the risk of breast and prostate cancer in offspring increases with paternal age.

Fisch has found that when both parents are over 35, paternal aging might be responsible for as many as half of all cases of Down syndrome, formerly thought to be inherited from the mother. And recent studies show that half a dozen or more rare but serious birth defects appear to be inherited exclusively from the father, including Apert syndrome, Crouzon syndrome and Pfeiffer syndrome (all characterized by facial abnormalities and the premature fusion of skull bones) as well as achondroplasia (the most common form of dwarfism).

Male mutations

Scientists have long known that advanced paternal age (like increased maternal age) played some role in fertility problems and birth defects.

Yet because the reports mainly involved children who died before birth or who had extremely rare disorders, no one really rang the alarm. Now, with new studies linking the father's age to relatively frequent, serious conditions like autism, schizophrenia and Down syndrome, the landscape is shifting.

Women have borne the brunt of the blame for birth defects. When the conditions were passed on through chromosomal lineage, women were somehow widely believed culpable, even though such defects can be traced to either partner. "But what we're finding now is that in humans as well as in other mammals, when there's a new genetic change -- called 'de novo' or 'sporadic point mutation' -- it almost always happens in the male parent," says Dolores Malaspina, chair of psychiatry at New York University Medical Center. And these de novo mutations increase in frequency with the age of the male parent.

These mutations could reflect the differences in male and female reproduction, notes Jabs. By the time females reach their teen years, their eggs have already been formed -- just one new egg matures each month. Men, on the other hand, produce millions of sperm cells every time they ejaculate. After each ejaculation, they must literally replicate those cells, and each replication multiplies the chance for a DNA "copy error" -- a genetic chink in the sperm DNA. The more ejaculations a man produces, the greater the chance for chinks to arise, leading to increased point mutation and thus increased infertility and birth defects.

While a woman's reproductive capacity halts more or less abruptly after all her eggs have been used up somewhere in her 40s or 50s, men experience a longer, more gradual winnowing and disintegration. "We believe that something in men's DNA replication machinery keeps becoming less efficient and less accurate with age, and the problems accumulate," says Jabs.

A chilling finding

The biggest news -- the father's role in brain disorders -- has come to light largely because of research from Israel, where birth records routinely include the age of the male parent. The first unsettling finding linked paternal age and schizophrenia.

"In our first study, looking at every pregnancy in Jerusalem from 1964 to 1976, we found that increased age in the father predicted increased cases of schizophrenia in the children," explains Malaspina, who was on the team doing the work. "In our second study, we found that when the cases arose from new mutations -- not familial inheritance -- it almost always could be traced to the genetics of the father. Somewhere between a quarter and a third of the cases could be explained only by the age of the father -- a threefold risk linked to fathers older than 50 compared with those in their 20s." Studies in Sweden and California produced almost identical results.

The autism findings are even more disturbing: Men 40 and older in the Israeli study were almost six times as likely to have offspring with autism as men under 30. Some researchers believe that older fathers might hold a clue to the vast upsurge in autism cases in the past decade.

"With older and older couples having children -- in the past two years, for the first time, more babies are being born to women over age 30 than under age 30, and on average, male partners tend to be older than female partners -- it's very feasible that paternal age is a major predictor of autism," asserts Fisch.

Invisible damage

Perhaps the creepiest aspect of the new findings is that a little genetic damage in men's sperm might actually be worse than a lot of damage.

The greater threat to offspring is the less flagrant DNA damage that gets passed on, declares Charles Muller, lab director of the Male Fertility Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Resulting defects may not show up until offspring are adults and it's too late to trace the cause. Damage can then be passed from one generation to the next.

"In short, the biggest genetic threat to society may not be infertility but fertile old men," says University of Wisconsin in Madison geneticist James F. Crow.

The new findings have profound implications for any potential parent. Older women, focused though they are on their own reproductive timetable, might increasingly view their partner's age with a wary eye. When both parents are aging, the risks to offspring multiply.

For men, the findings might be, above all, a clarion call to take better care of themselves. "This should make men reconsider their role and responsibility in childbearing," says Barbara Willet, of the Best Start childhood resource center in Ontario, Canada. "It's as if we're suddenly aware that men who want to be fathers need to be healthy, too."

Men typically don't think about their health, and we need to get them to. If you're drinking or smoking, if you're working in toxic environments with pesticides, X-rays, solvents or ionizing radiation, these things affect you as well as women, and will ultimately affect the children you conceive.

Alarming though the findings might be to some, researchers have a clear directive: "Don't panic."

"The research is still fresh," says Crow, "and more needs to be done before we start making sweeping recommendations like urging people to have children younger, or telling men to freeze their sperm after their 20s. I don't advocate asking the general public to change at this point, because while some of these mutations cause very severe effects, in the totality of things that can go wrong, this is not that large a part of the picture."

Freezing sperm might sometimes be the way to go. While frozen sperm may not be quite as potent as when it is fresh, it is not a proven problem. Since the turn of the last century, sperm of domestic animals has been frozen safely for as long as 75 years, Muller says. And frozen sperm is used routinely in humans for artificial insemination. Pregnancy rates and childbirth are right up there with regularly conceived birth, and there is no substantial DNA breakdown. If you're going to get a vasectomy, join the Army or go through cancer therapy, "I'd advise you to freeze your sperm beforehand," Muller says.

Most men can steer a gentler course just by watching their health. "Chances of problems increase as the years pass, but some men have significant DNA damage at 35, while others go on forever -- their sperm is fine in their 70s," Muller said.

Men can't rewind their biological clocks, but they can slow them down, Fisch agrees. Just remember, once you're in your 40s, you're past your maintenance-free years -- you have to take care of yourself. "If you want children from then on," he advises, "get into the best shape of your life."

The male biological clock

20s: Men have the maximum amount of mature sperm cells and the least DNA damage. The risk of producing birth defects in offspring is as low as it ever will be.

30s: The mid-30s bring a significant increase in sperm DNA damage and thus an increased risk of producing birth defects. One in 99 fathers ages 30-35 sires a child with schizophrenia vs. one in 141 for fathers under age 25.

40s: The risk of schizophrenia doubles in children of fathers in their late 40s compared with children of fathers under age 25. Men 40 and older are nearly six times more likely to have offspring with autism than men younger than 30.

50s: The DNA cells that create sperm have gone through more than 800 rounds of division and replication, vastly increasing the chances of mutation and birth defects. The risk of schizophrenia almost triples for children of fathers 50 and older; one in 47 fathers sires a child with the condition.

60s: 85 percent of sperm is clinically abnormal.

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