Tuesday, 26 April 2011

More Gauss

Just updated a couple of mild corrections to Dave Renfro's paper on x^17=1.  While I was at it I found this little quote about Gauss telling his professor that he had done so.

The brilliant mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss once visited his professor and claimed to have constructed a heptendecagon (a seventeen-sided figure). "Nonsense," the professor replied. "That is impossible." "Well, then," Gauss persisted. "I have just figured out how to resolve a seventeenth degree polynomial." "Bah, trivial," the professor replied. "I've done it myself."  

Gauss later repaid this professor, an amateur poet, with a dubious compliment: "He is the finest poet among mathematicians, and the finest mathematician among poets."

1 comment:

Steven Colyer said...

We can never get enough Gauss. 2nd smartest person after Leonhard Euler. :}