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The Proof (#2414)

In the 1600s, Pierre De Fermat made some of the greatest breakthroughs in mathematics history, including his famous theorem of Pythagoras -- a theorem in which the sum of the squares of the lengths of the sides of a right triangle is equal to the square of the length of the hypotenuse. He also stated that only the square of a number would work in his equation, not any other number. He claimed to have a proof for this conjecture, but it has never been found -- in fact, mathematicians have attempted to rediscover Fermat's lost proof for the last three centuries. This program introduces Andrew Wiles, a mathematician from Princeton University, who spent seven years in secret isolation working out the complex equations needed to prove Fermat's theorem. What he discovered was the mathematics story of the century. This program recounts his struggle in finding the proof, the effect on the mathematics community and Wiles' own joys and regrets in taking on this challenge. [56 minutes] Closed Captioning

This episode has not aired in the past few months on Iowa Public Television.

PBS Video

Information For Teachers

Grade Levels
6-8, 9-12
Curricular Areas
Science & Technology
Series Length
440 episodes
Average Episode Length
61 minutes
Record Rights
Record and retain for 1 year from each broadcast. No duplication allowed.
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Series Description: PBS' premier science series helps viewers of all ages explore the science behind the headlines. Along the way, NOVA programs demystify science and technology and highlight the people involved in scientific pursuits.

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