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'Mathematics Nobel Prize,' Fields Medal Stolen in Rio de Janeiro Shortly after Ceremony

08/02/2018 - 12h34

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FERNANDO TADEU MORAES
RIO DE JANEIRO

Iran's Caucher Birkar, 40, of Kurdish background, had his Fields Medal stolen after receiving it yesterday at the opening ceremony of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), which took place in Rio de Janeiro - the award is considered the "Nobel Prize of mathematics."

The Folha news report team verified that Birkar had put the medal in a briefcase along with other belongings. While he was posing for pictures shortly after the ceremony, his briefcase was stolen.

At that moment the team saw Birkar worried, asking people about his medal, which is forged in solid gold and has the image of Archimedes on one side.

Pablo Costa
Caucher Birkar
Caucher Birkar

The item is worth some R$ 15,000 (US$ 3,990). Because of the incident, Birkar did not take part in the press conference held after the ceremony.

Two men suspected of having stolen the medal have been identified through the security cameras of the event.

The organization of the event lamented the incident and said that the images recorded during the event are being analyzed.

Birkar is a professor at Cambridge University. He was born in Marivan, in Iran, a Kurd city widely affected by the war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s, and studied mathematics at the University of Tehran before moving to the United Kingdom in 2000.

After one year, he was granted the status of refugee and became a British citizen. He then began his doctoral program. Birkar's area of interest is birational geometry.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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