In this article, I explain why I abandoned my original plan to write a novel about a mathematician proving Fermat's Last Theorem, letting my protagonist solve the entirely fictional Wild Number Problem instead. I enumerate the steps that had to be taken to make it seem as much like a genuine mathematical problem as possible. I then describe how my novel was received by the general public, many readers not quite sure whether or not the wild numbers really existed, and how it was received by the mathematical community, a number of mathematicians trying to rid the problem of its fictional character to transform it into real mathematics after all.
- Pub Date:
- November 2012
- Mathematics - History and Overview
- 10 pages, contribution to the Proceedings of the annual symposium "Matematica e Cultura" in Venice, Italy, 2012. To be published by Springer Verlag