Notes in the Margins
In this true-life story, Andrew Wiles, a 10-year-old schoolboy browsing through his local library, stumbles across Fermat's Last Theorem: a mathematical puzzle a child can understand, whose solution has eluded mathematicians for over 350 years. Many people have tried before and all failed, including a child prodigy; an 18th-century woman mathematician who pretended to be a man in order to pursue her work on the theorem; a French revolutionary whose greatest achievements came on the night before he was killed in a duel; and two Japanese students in post-war Japan whose breakthrough leads one of them to commit suicide. In the complexity of their failures, however, great mathematics has been forged: work that eventually leads Wiles, who eventually becomes a mathematics professor at Princeton University, to secretly dedicate his life to solving the world's most difficult problem. In 1993, Wiles dramatically reveals his solution to Fermat's Last Theorem. He is instantly a celebrity, but everything comes crashing down when a flaw is found in his proof. Having come so close to mathematical immortality, will Wiles be able to patch the hole in his solution, or will he become just another one of Fermat's failures?