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I just got this from a friend. It was painfully hilarious (and oddly
relevant...)
-- Ernie P.
Nobody Really Understands Me
By Fermat's Last Theorem
Look, I really don't have all that much to complain about. I'm well
respected. I'm considered quite elegant in my own way. And, in certain
circles, I'm seen as quite a romantic and mysterious set of figures. But
despite all this, sometimes I still can't help feeling like no one truly
understands me.
As theorems go, I seem simple enough: The equation xn + yn = zn,
where n represents a whole number greater than two, has no solution. That's
me
in a nutshell. But for some reason, I'm still a mystery to everyone. Men
have devoted their entire lives trying to figure me out, and I guess that
should make me feel better. But it doesn't.
Most of them just wanted to fool around with me a little and then
move on. Like that jerk Yarosh. He went out of his way to prove me for n=2.
But that's not what I'm all about. Do you have any idea how that made me
feel? It was so incredibly degrading. Would you want to be proven for just
n=2
and nothing else? Of course not.
Did Yarosh, Cauchy or Kummer--or even Euler, for that matter--care
that I was French? Or that I was born in 1637 in Castres? Okay, Euler
might have. At first, he seemed different from the others. He'd spend every
waking moment thinking about me. Oh, how that made me feel! But understand
me?
No. In the end, he was just like the rest, interested only in what I could
do
for his career.
And don't even talk to me about Andrew Wiles. Sure, in 1994, he
proved me. But that's not the same thing as understanding me, as truly
knowing
what makes me tick. Did he once, in the 30 years he was obsessed with me,
ask
me what kind of music I liked? Or my favorite color? No. And in the end, he
used that easy Taniyama-Shimura conjecture to get to me. That hurt. It
reduced a big part of me to a semi-stable case. And in all that time, the
only time he ever spoke directly to me was late at night when he'd been
working too hard, and I think he was embarrassed about it afterwards.
No, Andrew Wiles didn't truly understand me. Not the way I want to
be understood. He just wanted to see what complex elliptical curvatures he
could derive from me. To hell with Andrew Wiles. I haven't heard a word
from him in five years, and I really don't care. He's probably off solving
the
three-body problem using odd natural numbers, if you know what I mean.
He's into that sort of stuff.
And so what if someone "proved" me? If people really care about
you, they don't need proof. They trust their feelings, and, in doing so,
find
out what you're really all about.
Late at night, when you're alone with a mathematician, that's when
they hurt you the worst. They say they want to understand you so very
badly, but they never stop to ask you how. So many times, I wanted to
scream,
"Just look at me! Put down all those computations and think about me for a
change!"
That's how they all are, though. They use all kinds of fancy
explanations, all kinds of advanced reasoning to figure you out, but they
never actually get to know you. I mean, I realize I'm not the easiest
theorem in the world to understand, but I hardly think I'm impossible.
The Pythagorean theorem and I are very close, and he says many 10-year-olds
understand him. I don't know, maybe it gets easier when you get to be his
age.
I know I can't give up hope. But I also know I can't rely on
imaginary numbers to make me complete, either. That's just not the kind of
theorem I am. Deep down, I've got some really complex variables. There may
be no solution for me for whole numbers greater than two, but I've learned
to
live with that. All I need is one, just one person who truly understands me,
and I'll finally consider myself a complete, happy, balanced equation.
Someday...
------------
Ernest Prabhakar <ernest@apple.com>
Darwin Product Manager, Apple Computer, Inc.
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