In the summer of 2012, renowned Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki posted four papers online claiming that he proved a famous number theory problem. The catch: No mathematician has been able to analyze his work:
“Mochizuki had created so many new mathematical tools and brought together so many disparate strands of mathematics that his paper was populated with vocabulary that nobody could understand. It was totally novel, and totally mystifying.
“As Tufts professor Moon Duchin put it: ‘He’s really created his own world.’
“It was going to take a while before anyone would be able to understand Mochizuki’s work, let alone judge whether or not his proof was right. In the ensuing months, the papers weighed like a rock in the math community. A handful of people approached it and began examining it. Others tried, then gave up. Some ignored it entirely, preferring to observe from a distance. As for the man himself, the man who had claimed to solve one of mathematics’ biggest problems, there was not a sound.”