Shah, Tanuj
(2012)
Three centuries of brain racking discovery xn + yn =zn ?
At Right Angles, 1 (1).
pp. 6163.
ISSN 25821873
Abstract
To talk about a book on mathematics as ‘entertaining’ or
a ‘pageturner’ may look out of place; but that is exactly
how one would describe Simon Singh’s book, Fermat’s
Enigma. The book starts in a dramatic manner: “This was the
most important mathematics lecture of the century”. Singh is
writing about a lecture to be delivered by Andrew Wiles on 23
June, 1993; he was going to sketch a proof of Fermat’s last theorem in this lecture. It was known as the ‘last’ theorem because
it was the only remaining ‘theorem’ stated by the 17th century
mathematician Pierre de Fermat which had neither been proved
nor disproved, despite close attention given to it over the course
of three and a half centuries by some of the greatest mathematicians. (Technically it ought to have been called a ‘conjecture’
as no proof had been found as yet). One can imagine an atmosphere of tension and excitement in the lecture hall at the prospect of the theorem finally being proved.
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