Put your hands together for Sir Andrew Wiles. The 62-year-old University of Oxford professor has been awarded the Abel Prize by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, which has been troubling mathematicians since 1637.
Penned back in 1637 by French mathematician Pierre de Fermat, it states, “There are no whole number solutions to the equation x^n+y^n=z^n when n is greater than 2.” Sounds about right. Fermat himself said he proved the theorem, but claims he wasn't able to jot it down because the margin of the book he was making notes in was too narrow.
"It is a tremendous honour to receive the Abel Prize and to join the previous laureates who have made such outstanding contributions to the field,” said Sir Andrew. “Fermat's equation was my passion from an early age, and solving it gave me an overwhelming sense of fulfilment. It has always been my hope that my solution of this age-old problem would inspire many young people to take up mathematics and to work on the many challenges of this beautiful and fascinating subject."
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He actually solved the equation in 1994 and published his proof a year later. His achievement has been hailed as 'an epochal moment' for mathematics, and will also see the professor pick up a cheque for six million Norwegian Krone (£495,000) from Crown Prince Haakon of Norway in May. [Guardian]