Why do so many great mathematicians just quit and do something stupid instead?
Grothendieke quit to write stupid political and environmental shit. Perelman quit to pick mushrooms. Galois quit to pick up chicks and get involved in politics... etc.
What inadequacies do geniuses see in math that makes them realize how trivial it is? Is it just tautologies?
>Galois quit to pick up chicks and get involved in politics
Galois didn't quit. He was challenged to a duel. It's speculated that the challenge was over a woman or that it was political but no one really knows for sure. What is known is that the night before his duel he stayed up and wrote down all of his mathematical research and ideas and entrusted it to his friend so that it wouldn't be lost forever in case he died (which he did).
Grothendieck thinks the world isn't ready and burned a bunch of his mathematical manuscripts. He also reached out to stop others from republishing his work.
Perelman left because a bunch of dudes tried to steal credit for his proof. So he thinks the mathematical community is a bunch of douchebags.
No, he was doing both. He applied to the university a bunch of times but kept not being allowed in or kept being kicked out because of his politics. Also he sent his research to some well known mathematicians at the university but one lost it, one didn't read it, and another didn't understand it.
Because being a pure mathematician is so much work with no reward.
I'm not just talking about the low pay, but I mean that it's the same reward as playing minesweeper or doing a sudoku puzzle. And out of the small subset of people who understand your work, only a few people care about it. It's not like physics where you get that fuzzy feeling after figuring out something new about the universe. It's not like engineering where you have the pleasure of creating something that everyone uses. So most pure mathematicians get sick of it and go into applied maths or do something else instead.
There was only one person who read them, and honestly back in those days if someone suddenly came up to you and started talking about structures of permutations as a new way of looking at algebra you would probably think they were full of shit. Even now it would probably be taken with speculation since abstract algebra isn't done in that way anymore (the founders of abstract algebra probably wouldn't recognize the algebra we do now if we went back and showed it to them).
maybe its a matter of idealism. i wouldnt be surprised if they dropped math to pursue something they consider a higher calling. only two reasons im doing math are its fun and its safe, emotionally/ethically.