G iven that there are infinitely many possible numbers to check it was quite a claim, but Fermat was absolutely sure that no numbers fitted the equation because he had a logical watertight argument. Sadly, he never wrote down his proof. It was even rumoured that Gap asked him to endorse its range of menswear.

## Fermat's Last Theorum

T he most valuable prize should have been the Wolfskehl prize, , marks bequeathed by Paul Wolfskehl in He had stumbled upon the last theorem as a year-old and then spent the next 30 years working on the problem. E very mathematician that I have ever met takes on major problems purely for the intellectual battle, and the rich prizes are just a distraction, usually accepted, but sometimes rejected. Finally, in the , Andrew Wiles, a mathematician who had been working on the problem for many years, discovered a proof that is based on a connection with the theory of elliptic curves more below.

Though a hole in the proof was discovered, it was patched by Wiles and Richard Taylor in At last, Fermat's conjecture had become a "Theorem"! Often they don't realize that mathematics, like other disciplines, has unsolved questions that spur on the development of new ideas.

Wiles was able to prove the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture, which establishes a "dictionary" between elliptic curves and modular forms , by converting elliptic curves into something called Galois representations. This way of thinking brought new techniques to bear on a centuries-old problem.

Immediately after the proof was verified, Wiles found it hard to resume his work, to move on to the next challenge, but said that in time he regained his focus. The Abel prize was established in by the Norwegian government and named after Niels Henrik Abel, a Norwegian mathematician who made a name for himself for his impressive work on so-called elliptical functions.

## Fermat's last theorem mathematician Andrew Wiles wins Abel prize | New Scientist

He died in at the age of 26, wracked with tuberculosis, after a sled trip to visit his fiancee for Christmas. Nash, a Nobel prize winner whose mental illness and recovery inspired the book and film, A Beautiful Mind was killed in a car accident in New Jersey four days after receiving the prize.

Although the prize comes a couple of decades after the proof was revealed, it is a great opportunity to remind budding nerds - and non-nerds, too - of one of the most inspiring stories in the history of mathematics. Topics Mathematics. University of Oxford news.

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