Monday, December 13, 2010

Arithmetic and the Master

A notable fellow teacher during several years of my career was mathematics guru, Lloyd Sedgwick. We discovered that chess was a passion for each of us, and this led to many prolonged battles over the 64 squares of the arena.

But greater even than his passion for chess was Lloyd's obsession with Fermat's Last Theorem. This theorem has puzzled and occupied mathematicians for two centuries.

Fermat's Last Theorem:

Where x, y, z, and n are integers, there is no solution to

xn + yn= zn for n>2.

I was treated to the master's scrawled "proofs," or rather "paths to proofs" that Mr. Sedgwick developed, I pretending to understand where he was going, while at the same time, disabusing him of the belief that he had found the solution.

It was all great fun, and the pleasure was further enhanced by the fact that our political viewpoints were more or less polar opposites. You might readily infer that we had some excellent conflicts raging into the late hours of a weekend evening! And you would be right.

My good friend Lloyd died just five years after Andrew Wiles's proof of the theorem was published.

Lloyd C. Sedgwick 1922 - 2000 RIP


Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Very cool! I never played with that one, but there was a period of my life that math was very important. I really like it. I went through Diff Eq 2

Lin said...

Head gonna 'splode. :)

vanilla said...

Shark, math was really important to someone who went through Diff Eq 2.
My core interests were Number Theory and certain non-Euclidean geometries.

Lin, *sigh* I get that a lot in the old math class. ;)

Silver said...

I am lousy in Math. That's why i had to do Law.

vanilla said...

Silver, I spent a bit of time in the law library. I admire your stamina. Too, there is a "math" element to the process of constructing a brief!

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Oooh- non-Euclidean toothpaste and Euler velocities

Rebecca Mecomber said...

I prefer your posts about grammar. ;)

My hubs is a Brainy Science and Math guy. He'd LOVE this. But he doesn't read blogs. :-p He's too busy playing chess online. Sheesh!

Those old geezers sure knew how to do the figurin' though! I went to public school in the 80s. I know nothing about math or geography. Ask me about pop culture, I know lots of that! :-p

vanilla said...

Shark, the viscosity of the thinking process has increased to the point that even though there may be a geometry by which the toothpaste can be returned to the tube, I'm afraid I can no longer recover it. I hope Euler isn't squeaking as he rotates in the grave.

Rebecca, I think the man is right. Playing chess on-line is a great use of the 'net! So, the old saw: my sister and I know everything. Pop culture question? That's one my sister knows.