The Washington Post

PIERRE DE FERMAT: Google Doodle is proof-positive of French mathematician’s 410th birthday

“I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this theorem, which this doodle is too small to contain.”

With a 10-word clause plus an eight-word clause, Google today proves that it is a company of infinite jest.

Google’s latest homepage “Doodle” not only celebrates the 410th anniversary of the birth of French mathematician and lawyer Pierre de Fermat with a lightly erased logo. The California company also nods playfully to the conditions of “Fermat’s Last Theorem,” (pictured on the Doodle’s chalkboard) — which the Frenchman so notably proposed in about 1637 by scribbling in his copy of the ancient Greek text Arithmetica by Diophantus.

Fermat boasted by adding in Latin that he had no room to write his discovered proof for the theorem.

Translation: “I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition that this margin is too narrow to contain.”

It would be nearly 360 years, if our math is correct, until British mathematician Andrew Wiles — working largely alone for seven years, building on the work of predecessors — would find (in the mid-’90s) a proof for the world’s “most difficult math problem.”

Happy 410th, Monsieur Fermat. Those birthdays, boy, they do add up.

MORE: Andrew Wiles describes his revelation in the geekily mesmerizing 1996 documentary “Fermat’s Last Theorem” (which also delves into modular elliptic curves, decades of conjecture — and triumph after one last possible failure):


TOP GOOGLE DOODLES: Our Fave Five logo animations so far

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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