Sunday, June 29, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A favourite pasttime of mine, typically when I have a few minutes while biting into my mozzarella sandwich at lunch, is to haunt the websites of great academic departmental and personal websites. There is a vicarious thrill in observing day-to-day life in esteemed institutions - the CVs of legends, nobel laureates scheduled to give seminars, etc. A great examples of this is the website of the mathematics department at Princeton University. You go to the page and scroll down, seeking that one name, and reach a modest space with no photo and a single link to 'bibliography'. That's all there is about the dead-set genius that is Andrew Wiles. Andrew Wiles! The chap who proved the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture, and thereby cracked the seemingly insurmountable last theorem of Pierre de Fermat! One is at a loss for words to describe the magnitude of his achievement. Perhaps Professor Wiles felt similarly tongue-tied, and that is the reason for the information on him extending only to a simple 2 page pdf file of his 22 publications, including among them the modest-sounding, 'Modular Elliptic Curves and Fermat’s Last Theorem, Annals of Mathematics, 141, (1995), 443-551'.