Medal seen as 'Nobel for maths' stolen shortly after awarded to Kurdish professor

Xinhua
A Fields Medal, regarded as the Nobel prize for mathematics, was stolen minutes after it was awarded to a Cambridge professor on Wednesday.
Xinhua
AFP

Kurdish mathematician, Caucher Birkar (R), 40, receives the Fields Medal Award, math's most prestigious prize, during the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM 2018) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 01, 2018. 

A Fields Medal, regarded as the Nobel prize for mathematics, was stolen minutes after it was awarded to a Cambridge professor on Wednesday.

Caucher Birkar, an Iranian Kurdish mathematician, was one of the four joint winners of the prestigious honor at the International Congress of Mathematics, which was held for the first time in crime-ridden Rio. Yet he soon realized the 14-karat gold medal was stolen after he put it in a briefcase.

Security officials at the congress venue found the empty briefcase under a bench in a nearby pavilion. Police have identified two potential suspects from security camera footage.

The organizing committee of the event, held every four years, said it "profoundly regrets" the incident. "Images recorded at the event are being analyzed. The organizing committee is cooperating with local police authorities in their investigation," it said in a statement.

Specialized in algebraic geometry, Birkar was born in 1978 in a village in Kurdistan Province near the Iran-Iraq border. He came to Britain as a refugee some 20 years ago.


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