Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 410th birthday of Pierre de Fermat, one of the greatest mathematicians in history. The doodle also celebrates the tantalizing mystery that he left behind, which troubled mathematicians for over three centuries.
Today, the Google homepage displays a blackboard that has de Fermat’s theorem written in chalk. The equation xn + yn ? zn [n>2] is written on the blackboard, accompanied by the hover text that says, “I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this theorem, which this doodle is too small to contain.” It is a reference to a marginal comment in his personal copy of the book Arithmetica, which says, “I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.”
The proof that de Fermat was referring to was for his greatest theorem in which he said that no three positive numbers (x, y and z) can satisfy the equation xn + yn = zn, where n is greater than 2.
Pierre Fermat was born on 17 August 1601 to a wealthy businessman. It is believed that he studied law at Bordeaux and Toulouse, and developed an interest in literature, science, languages and mathematics. After he received his law degree from the University of Orleans, he started his career in law and a few years later, he changed his name to Pierre de Fermat.
The simplicity of de Fermat’s last theorem provoked the curiosity of historians and mathematicians, who worked hard to find his “marvelous proof.” Unfortunately, there is no record of his proof, leaving mathematicians to formulate their own.
In 1995, a mathematician named Andrew Wiles published a paper that finally proved Fermat’s greatest theorem, which took him seven years to complete. It took almost 360 years before the proof was found to what the Guinness Book of World Records called “the world’s most difficult math problem.”
What do you think of today’s Google Doodle?