36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant from beginning to end,
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This review is from: Fermat's Last Theorem: The Story Of A Riddle That Confounded The World's Greatest Minds For 358 Years (Paperback)
OK, I'll admit it, as a mathematician I've been acquainted with - and fascinated by - Fermat's last theorem for decades. I bought this book for holiday reading, and was not disappointed. The book goes into the history of mathematics, including Pierre de Fermat's intriguing background, and shows how Andrew Wiles drew on centuries of knowledge and discoveries in order - finally - to nail a proof for Fermat's Last Theorem. The whole "story" is remarkably pacey but wonderfully clear.
I admit I did already know some of the details given in this book, but the history and the description of the characters in the world of mathematics added an extra dimension (no pun intended!) and made it all the more fascinating. Names like Euler, Dirichlet, Cauchy, LaGrange ... before I read the book they had merely been names of equations, polynomials, boundary conditions and the like, but the author gave us some fascinating details of their lives, what type of people they were (I've gone off Cauchy now, and I so loved his polynomials) and even the interactions that went on among some of these famous names.
And I loved the description of Wiles's "Eureka" moment when he realises he's finally got the proof ... it must have been like solving the world's most difficult crossword clue!
I don't know whether to go straight back and read the whole thing again, or lend it to a friend and share the experience.
On reflection, my friends can buy their own copy.
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Initial post: 15 Apr 2010 11:02:32 BDT
Mr. T. Y. W. Kent says:
Hi, I still think in imperial measures as that was what was on the back of my jotter - a testament to brainwashing pre comprehensive education. Metric remains a mystery. I even still convert decimal currency into pounds, shillings and pence. I have given your review a positive vote but I think i'll give the book a wide berth. At the second attempt I managed a B in my Higher Maths, a miracle in line with the Resurrection. Enjoy your 'sums', Tom Kent (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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