“The most famous story of mathematics is probably the one about Archimedes jumping out of his bathtub and running naked through the streets of Syracuse, shouting “Eureka!” (I found it!) as he realized how to measure the volume of objects with irregular shapes.
When someone asked why he was running around naked, he replied: “Because I have found something more important than my own nudity!”
That story is a bit of a myth, but it is true that Archimedes was the first person to determine the exact value of Pi, and he did it with a very clever method. He took two polygons with 96 sides each and inscribed them inside a circle.
The total number of sides of the polygons was the same as the number of sides of the polygon with a circumference equal to that of the circle, and by dividing 96 by 360 he calculated Pi very accurately.
Important Mathematical Story.
The more important mathematical story is of the great French mathematician Pierre de Fermat. Fermat was a lawyer and amateur mathematician in the 17th century.
He discovered some new theorems about integers and planned to publish the results. But when he was not able to find a proof, he wrote in the margin of his book “I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this proposition, which this margin is too narrow to contain”.
This is as famous as the story about Archimedes. It is called the “Fermat’s Last Theorem” because this was the proposition that remained unsolved for 350 years.
There are three main reasons why this math problem was so hard to solve. First, the proposition was very complicated. It is actually a very simple statement, but it is difficult to prove because it requires some deep theorems.
Secondly, Fermat wrote that he had a proof of his proposition, using no more than the basic arithmetic operations. But he did not share it, so mathematicians didn’t know if it was a correct proof or not.
Finally, in 2005 Andrew Wiles finally found a proof of Fermat’s Theorem. The proof didn’t use any assumptions beyond primary school math allowment.
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