We all know about Pythagoras. But do you know about Fermat? If you don’t know you can read this article. If you know him then you must read this article.
But first, let us go back to 5th standard (I’m sure, given a chance, everyone would like to go back to 5th standard) around the time when we studied Pythagoras theorem (Hope you remember it) and also studied one of its proof. In fact, it is said that, this theorem has been proved in more number of ways than any other theorem (but can you do at least 1 of its proof now?!). Then went over to solve some numerical problems and whoever was able to answer the question: “If hypotenuse of a right angle triangle is 5cm long and sum of other two sides is 7cm then find their length” was considered a genius! Some of us were in that genius shoes but some of us just felt bad and so goes our story.
So what this has got to do with this French guy Fermat? Well he did certainly learn Pythagoras theorem but he didn’t just care about the application of it (Yes application, the only thing which seems to interest us). He saw that there are many triplet of numbers like 3,4,5 or 5,12,13 or many such a,b,c whole numbers satisfying this equation a^2+b^2=c^2. That is we can find many right angle triangles which has whole number units as their lengths. If he had stopped there he wouldn’t have been remembered as Fermat de Pierre. He claimed you cannot find such triplet of whole numbers satisfying a^n+b^n=c^n when n>2. He was somehow able to see why you can’t find such triplets but he just wrote on a margin of a book “I have a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain” and left this world in 1665.
So what? Well the problem was nobody was able to prove him wrong and at the same time nobody knew why he is right. This came to be known as Fermat’s last problem and was in Guinness book as the most difficult problem until 1995 when a British mathematician gave a proof (I won’t tell you the person name who solved it! and you can forget about knowing the proof. Its 100 page long). So this French lawyer who was not even a mathematician questioned the best of mathematicians and mathematically made fun of them.
Where this leaves us? I would say think different and don’t always think of profit from a finding which narrows down our minds. You need not be a mathematician for being a Fermat. All you need is a mind to explore without boundaries. The joy of being able to make fun of the best of minds is priceless.