February 19, 2007
Bailey Hall 201
Refreshments will be served
This documentary show produced by Nova uses the search for a proof of Fermat's famous theorem to provide a better understanding of the quest for knowledge. It is this quest that apparently motivates mathematicians to attempt to solve what many feel is the unsolvable. For those of you unfamiliar with Fermat's Last Theorem, it states that for all natural numbers n greater than 2, xn + yn = zn has no roots among natural numbers x, y, and z. Over 300 years ago, Fermat stated that he had a proof of this result, but the margin of the paper was to small to include it. Because this problem had an obvious link with the Pythagorean Theorem (and because Fermat stated that he had a proof) mathematicians felt the argument would be found immediately. But for centuries people struggled to uncover the proof, and it was not until the mid 1990s that Andrew Wiles of Princeton University finally succeeded. For further information on the documentary, see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/proof/.
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