In solving the Poincaré conjecture, Russia’s Perelman’s indifference to the prize(million bucks and the fields medal) partially comes from this attitude to science.
“I have found a way to calculate caverns; together with my colleagues we are studying mechanisms for filling social and economical caverns. Such caverns are everywhere. They can be calculated and it opens great possibilities… I know how to control the universe. Now tell me, why would I run after that 1$ million?” the mathematician explained.
The next statement could not be more true:
“Where technology creates new machines and devices, mathematics creates their analogues – logical methods for analysis in any field of science. Every mathematical theory, if it’s strong, will sooner or later find an application,”Perelman said in the interview.
“For instance, many generations of mathematicians and philosophers tried to axiomatize philosophy. The result of those attempts is the theory of Boolean functions, named after the Irish mathematician and philosopher George Boole. The theory has become the core for cybernetics and the general control theory, which together with achievements in other sciences led to the creation of computers, modern naval, aerial and space vehicles. There are dozens of such examples in the history of mathematics.”
^BBC 45 min special on Poincare and the famous Conjecture