Mathematicians Of The Day

20th February

On this day in 1648, a letter from Pierre de Fermat through Frenicle de Bessy to Kenelm Digby reached John Wallis saying that Fermat had solved equations of the type x2Ay2=1x^2 - Ay^2 = 1 for all non-square values up to 150. Thus begins the saga of the mis-naming of Pell's equation.

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Quotation of the day

From Ludwig Boltzmann
The most ordinary things are to philosophy a source of insoluble puzzles. With infinite ingenuity it constructs a concept of space or time and then finds it absolutely impossible that there be objects in this space or that processes occur during this time... the source of this kind of logic lies in excessive confidence in the so-called laws of thought.
Quoted in B McGuinness, Ludwig Boltzmann, Theoretical Physics and Philosophical Problems, (Dordrecht, 1974) 64.