By tpm | August 17, 2011
Fermat’s famous quote, paraphrased in a 21st century context
Google is celebrating Pierre De Fermat’s birthday with one of the trademark Doodles. The Doodle features a blackboard with Fermat’s Last Theorem. If you’re not familiar with the story of Fermat’s famous theorem, it’s a good one. To oversimplify, Fermat claimed in one of his notebooks that if you took the Pythagorean theorem and substituted larger integers than two for the exponents, there were no “non-trivial” integer solutions to the problem. In his notebook he’d written, “I have found a truly marvelous proof of this theorem, but the margin is too small to contain it.” For centuries, mathematicians chipped away at the problem, eliminating cases, but still far from a general proof. Finally, about 15 years ago, Princeton mathematician Andrew Wiles delivered a solution (hundreds of pages long). It is generally though today that Fermat did not actually have the proof he claimed.