Modern science is accustomed to patting itself on the back, often thinking that it has all of the answers for life's various conundrums, in comparison to the ancients who thought that the universe revolved around the earth, not the sun. Yet it was only in 1995 did a mathematician named Andrew Wiles, a British-born and educated academic in residence at Princeton University, finally solve the age-old problem of Fermat's Last Theorem. Fermat's Theorem was a famously impossible problem created by the 17th century French jurist and amateur mathematician Pierre de Fermat.
It troubled mathematicians for ages, and took the professional mathematician Wiles nearly seven years of continuous effort to solve the amateurs' conundrum. As pointed out by Amir D. Aczel in his book Fermat’s Last Theorem: Unlocking the Secrets of an Ancient Mathematical Problem, to call Fermat an amateur, even a gifted and passionate amateur, is something of an understatement. In addition to his busy civil service career, Fermat;s writings also provided the foundation for modern calculus such as the theory of motion, acceleration, forces, orbits, and the ;other applied mathematical concepts of continuous change; we call calculus thirteen years before the birth of Sir Isaac Newton (5).
This alone would be enough to gain him a place in the mathematical pantheon, and also, for the reader, humanizes the abstract concepts studied in the discipline and raises the reader;s level of respect for the theorem;s creator. The subject that troubles high school and college students all over the world was actually created as a kind of hobby by Fermat. Aczel;s tale revolves around a scribbling in one of the corners of Fermat;s notes that became known as Fermat;s Last Theorem, an unsolvable problem that tried the patience of some of the greatest mathematicians alive.Aczel;s book evolves like a historical detective sto…
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