How Fermat and Wiles made my feet warm

As I described earlier in my “Anti-Moore’s Law” theory, the ability to discover radically new things decrease exponentially with time; and I couldn’t find a better example for this than mathematics.

Given the amount of time mathematics has been around and the number of people who have been working on it all this while, it is unsurprisingly the subject where the least number of discoveries are being made. Now this fact itself is enough to give anyone cold feet and deter them in their pursuit of a career in mathematical research.

Fermat was a man who was lucky enough to be born in a more primitive stage of mathematics than I. His footnotes and side notes and notes (and I don’t know what else) baffled many a mathematician for many a century.

The last one surviving was, not so surprisingly, named as Fermat’s Last Theorem. For those of you who are not familiar with what it is, it states that there are no integral solutions to the equation
a^n + b^n = c^n
for n > 2.

The beauty of this theorem is that understanding it is so simple that a boy named Andrew Wiles fantasised about solving this problem when he was ten years old. The complexity of it is such that a university professor named Andrew Wiles took over twenty years to prove it.

This is what gives me hope. The fact that seemingly impossible tasks can be solved using the Taniyama – Shimura conjecture gives me hope. The hope that one day I shall be that mathematician who shall have the power to prove what I believe is true, however long that might take.

I don’t wish for a Nobel Prize, because, first of all, we don’t have a Nobel for math, and second of all, the sheer pleasure of the fruit of your work in front of your eyes is more satisfying than winning one. Perhaps, I’ll settle for an igNobel Prize.