A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fermat's Last Tango

Fermat's Last Tango I wish I could go back in time and tell my young self that in the 21st century, well into my dotage, I'd still be having an impossibly good time....that my Saturday nights would eclipse even those Yale proms, those romantic evenings on the Boul'Mich, those private parties at the Teheran Hilton. Take last night, for example. What in the world could beat sitting in my own office, drinking a glass of "red" (at $4.50/bottle, you don't get any more description than that), and watching Fermat's Last Tango with the nerdiest person I know?

At least one of us thought that this musical inspired by Andrew Wiles and his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem was hilarious. In it, Daniel Keane (a.k.a. Wiles) solves the most famous problem in math (a solution to Pierre de Fermat's 1637 theorem "the equation xn + yn = zn has no solution when x, y and z are postive whole numbers and n is a whole number greater than 2"). Then Fermat himself appears to him and points out a hole in the proof. Eventually Keane corrects his proof, but not before a couple of trips to the AfterMath, where he meets Pythagoras, Euclid, Newton, and Gauss.

If you like catchy tunes with phrases like “Taniyama-Shimura conjecture” worked into the lyrics, this is the show for you. If, like the other one of us, you don't especially care for musicals of any stripe, it's at least a bit of a math history refresher. Meanwhile I can always dream that Cervantes, Shakespeare, Molière or Pound will show up from wherever dead writers go and reassure me that I have even more exciting evenings to look forward to between now and whenever I kick the bucket.

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