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Amir Aczel’s “Fermat’s Last Theorem” begins with this amazing quote by Andrew Wiles.

Yes ! he is the one .. the mathematician who solved the most famous unsolvable problem in the history of Mathematics . Over a span of 3 centuries, thousands of brilliant and hardworking men and women were at it.. and in the quest had discovered so many ground-breaking theories ..even new branches of Maths!

I was just dumbfounded the moment I read it - at the sheer truth behind it. Here it goes ..

*"Perhaps I could best describe my experience of doing mathematics in terms of entering a dark mansion. You go into the first room and it's dark, completely dark. You stumble around, bumping into the furniture. Gradually, you learn where each piece of furniture is. And finally, after six months or so, you find the light switch and turn it on. Suddenly, it's all illuminated and you can see exactly where you were. Then you enter the next room . . . "*

Exactly !! I think this applies to most situations in life!

I’ve been in this groping-in-the-dark-what-do-I-do-next state so many times !

May be that’s the joy of teaching.. you see someone groping in the dark and help him/her to the switch and when the room lightens up .. the look on the bright face..that look is the bliss of teaching. And vice versa.. anyone’d be really happy to be with a person who ‘knows’!

There are so many mathematicians mentioned in the book.. Euler.. Gauss .. Galois .. Sophie Germain .. I can see them all..as though they spent their lives on earth just recently.

Whatever was written about Gauss in the book, I already knew.. even the story of his teacher giving the 7 yr old Gauss with a difficult monotonous problem like 1+2+3+..100 as punishment and him solving it in a couple of minutes !

Galois was a revelation .. I was reminded of Marlowe.

A really bright star who came in, brightened the whole sky with brilliant blinding light , then swiftly disappeared.

He was so brilliant that he could solve most equations in his mind. In fact he couldn’t get into the most famous college at that time because he wrote the answers directly without intermediate steps. While still a schoolboy, he’d learnt all the higher level mathematical theories extant at that time and had developed the theory in his name – the Galois theory !

Galois died in a political duel. The night before the duel.. he was so convinced he would die, that he wrote down his complete mathematical theory and sent it to his friend. At the time of his death, he was just 20!

*Header Image - “ Maison Fermat” by Karine C. via Flickr.*