Fermat's Last Theorem

by Simon Singh | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 1857026691 Global Overview for this book
Registered by bigcurlyloz of Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire United Kingdom on 9/4/2006
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This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by bigcurlyloz from Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire United Kingdom on Monday, September 04, 2006
"In 1963, a schoolboy browsing in his local library stumbled across a great mathematical problem: Fermat's Last Theorem, a puzzle that every child can now understand, but which has baffled mathematicians for over 300 years. Aged just ten, Andrew Wiles dreamed he would crack it. Many people had tried before Wiles and failed, including an 18th-century philanderer who was killed in a duel. An 18th-century Frenchwoman made a major breakthrough in solving the riddle, but she had to attend maths lectures at the Ecole Polytechnique disguised as a man. This is the story of the puzzle that has confounded mathematicians since the 17th century. The solution of the Theorem is one of the most important mathematical developments of the 20th century." - amazon.co.uk synopsis

Utterly fascinating and, somewhat strangely, a page turner.

Journal Entry 2 by bigcurlyloz from Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire United Kingdom on Monday, October 09, 2006
I'm making this available as a ring as it is definitely a book that deserves to be enjoyed by other people.

lwpallett (UK - Europe)
flanners (UK - UK)
candy-is-dandy (UK - UK/anywhere surface)
MyaStone (US - US)
KateKintail (US - US/Intl if needed)
TracyShannon (US APO - US/Intl if needed)
Mumugrrl (US - US) - Asked to be skipped
VVilliam (US - Intl) Asked to be skipped
Prilade (Bulgaria - Europe) - no response

*Now travelling of its own accord*

How it works
- PM me to join and state your shipping preferences.
- When I have at least 5 people, I'll (probably) post the book to the first person.
- Please journal the book when it arrives and when you've sent it on.
- When you've read it, please PM the next person on the list for their address.
- Bear in mind other people want to read it, so don't put it at the bottom of your TBR pile (6 weeks is a reasonable timeframe imo)!
- The last person on the list is to send it back to me :-)

When I have enough participants I'll sort the order to suit as many people's postage preferences as possible.

Journal Entry 3 by lwpallett on Monday, October 16, 2006
Pressed into my hands as the start of the bookring...so now I should get on and read it!

Journal Entry 4 by lwpallett on Sunday, November 05, 2006
Finally finished it--taken a bit longer than intended because I just started work and all of a sudden don't have as much time to read any more!
I really enjoyed it. Shades of maths lectures in that the theories and workings are only outlined and then left for the reader to sort out, leaving me hungry for more, but uncertain as to how accurate these outlines are. Over-simplification can often mislead as to the true structure of an argument or method, but still give an overview. Mathematical content aside (which I may or may not pursue if I have time), it was a really good story of the background to one of the most enigmatic problems in maths. Many a time it is just as interesting to learn the history and characters involved in a problem as it is to study the problem itself, and this book subscribes to that in full. How many times has a maths lecturer taken a minute or two for an aside about the person a theorem or method is named after? The answer is a surprising number. It adds interest and can often give an insight into how it should be used simply from the circumstances of its inception.

But enough of the rant. It was a very enjoyable read and now should be making its way soon to the next in the ring!

Journal Entry 5 by flanners from Havant, Hampshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Arrived today, many thanks. I have a couple of rings already arrived this week, but will get to it as soon as poss. Looking forward to it!

Journal Entry 6 by flanners from Havant, Hampshire United Kingdom on Saturday, November 25, 2006
This was a rattling good book – the last 100 pages or so I read in a single sitting because I simply could not put it down! I enjoyed the glimpse into the world of higher mathematics (formerly something of a closed book to me) and especially the historical background. I was surprised to discover the extent to which mathematicians eschew the use of computers; I would have expected them to have opened up whole new worlds of exploration. Very amusing to discover that university mathematics departments have fewer computers than any other faculty!

I also really enjoyed the problems, the solutions of which were outlined in the appendix. The story of Mr Black, Mr Grey and Mr White made for a very lively dinner table conversation in this house!

Off to candy-is-dandy this week. Apologies for having had it so long – six ring books arrived in one week!

Journal Entry 7 by wingcandy-is-dandywing from Great Bardfield, Essex United Kingdom on Monday, December 04, 2006
Thanks Flanners. Received safely.

Journal Entry 8 by wingcandy-is-dandywing from Great Bardfield, Essex United Kingdom on Sunday, August 05, 2007
I really enjoyed the history of mathematics included in this book and managed to keep up with some of the theories. Others went way over my head - all these conjectures and complex mathematical theorums - I really can''t imagine what must go on in some of these mathematicians'' heads.

All in all a good challenging read. I wish we''d been taught some of the history and reasoning behind number theory when studying maths at school. It would have built a much better picture of the whys and hows of algebra, geometry etc.

Thanks bigcurlyloz for sharing. I have the next person''s address so this will be off across the Atlantic next.


Journal Entry 10 by MyaStone from Stamford, Connecticut USA on Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Received today in the mail. Thanks for sharing (and i love the notecard that came with it - adorable!)

Journal Entry 11 by MyaStone from Stamford, Connecticut USA on Sunday, October 21, 2007
i was really impressed by the writing - that the author was able to make so many mathematical concepts easily understandable to the lay person, and that the narrative was so well put together. i would definitely recommend this one.

have pm'ed next in line and am awaiting an address.

thanks again for sharing!

22 Oct 07 ETA: mailed today to KateKintail with delivery confirmation

Journal Entry 12 by wingKateKintailwing from Burke, Virginia USA on Thursday, October 25, 2007
I received this in the mail today! I've got a couple books I have to finish reading within a week or so, but then this book is my priority. Thanks for sending it, MyaStone, and thank you for the chance to read it in the book ring, bigcurlyloz! :-)

Journal Entry 13 by wingKateKintailwing from Burke, Virginia USA on Monday, April 07, 2008
OH my gosh I've had this book far too long. It traveled with me to New York & back, then Iowa & back and I finally finished it last week. I am incredibly sorry for keeping it for such an unreasonable period of time and I've already PMed the next reader for her address.

I absolutely loved this book, though. I'm a math minor and I remember learning about Fermat's Last Theorem when I was in high school. I really enjoyed learning about how it was finally solved, all the twists and turns it took to get there, and all the history that went into it. Incredibly fascinating. It definitely read as a history book and not a math book, but I liked that the figures and proofs were included so I could spend as much or as little time as I liked diving into them.

EDIT: Every time I go to the dentist, my dentist asks me what I'm reading. The last time I was there, he said "I'll never forget that math book you were reading that one time!" heehee

Journal Entry 14 by wingKateKintailwing from Burke, Virginia USA on Tuesday, April 15, 2008
On its way to TracyShannon. Thanks again!

DC#: 03071790000087739476

Journal Entry 15 by wingtracyshannonwing from El Paso, Texas USA on Monday, April 28, 2008
It is safely in my hands in El Paso, Texas. Thank you for including me. :)

Journal Entry 16 by wingtracyshannonwing from El Paso, Texas USA on Saturday, July 26, 2008
Well, I've tried and I can't get through this book even though it's an interesting subject. I think it's me, not the book! Anyway, one thing that makes me feel better for having it so long is that the two people after me have asked to be skipped and I got no response from the third. Bigcurlyloz has given me the go-ahead to RABCK it! :)

Journal Entry 17 by wingtracyshannonwing from El Paso, Texas USA on Wednesday, July 30, 2008
This book will soon be on its way to melydia in Virginia, US....

Journal Entry 18 by wingtracyshannonwing at -- Geocaches, Virginia USA on Friday, August 15, 2008

Released 11 yrs ago (8/15/2008 UTC) at -- Geocaches, Virginia USA



To melydia via Media Mail

Journal Entry 19 by wingmelydiawing from Rockville, Maryland USA on Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This arrived in today's mail - thanks so much! Interestingly, I discovered I have a copy of Fermat's Last Theorem already on my shelf - but written by some guy named Aczel. This book, on the other hand, is the one I've been wanting to read. Thanks again.

Journal Entry 20 by wingmelydiawing from Rockville, Maryland USA on Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Most people are familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem which describes a right triangle: a^2 + b^2 = c^2. However, what you may not know is that Pierre Fermat claimed back in the 1600s to be able to prove that a^n + b^n = c^n has no whole number solutions for n > 2. Trial and error suggests this to be true, but for over 350 years, no one could prove it. This is the story of the equation and those who worked towards the eventual solution in the early 1990s, from Pythagoras through Andrew Wiles, who published the final proof. His proof is complicated enough that I suspect Fermat's proof was flawed, but it makes for a surprisingly engrossing read all the same. There are tons of names and personal stories in this book, and though they often feel tangential, every single person discussed has great bearing in one way or another on the solving of Fermat's Last Theorem. One doesn't usually equate mathematics with drama or suspense, but both are present here. Definitely recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in math or history.

Journal Entry 21 by florafloraflora on Sunday, February 22, 2009
Picked up from today's Bookcrossing meetup at Kosher Bites in Baltimore. More math: whee!

Journal Entry 22 by florafloraflora at RPI, Amos Eaton in Troy, New York USA on Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Released 7 yrs ago (5/29/2012 UTC) at RPI, Amos Eaton in Troy, New York USA


I'm afraid there's enough math in my day-to-day life now that it's highly unlikely I will read this in my spare time. But I've given it the best possible shot I can think of at finding more congenial readers.

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