Quote of the Day: Japanese Mathematician Discovers Marvelous Brain-Altering Proof


From Davide Castelvecchi, writing about an impenetrable 500-page mathematical proof that might change the field forever if it’s verified:

But so far, the few who have understood the work have struggled to explain it to anyone else. “Everybody who I’m aware of who’s come close to this stuff is quite reasonable, but afterwards they become incapable of communicating it,” says one mathematician who did not want his name to be mentioned. The situation, he says, reminds him of the Monty Python skit about a writer who jots down the world’s funniest joke. Anyone who reads it dies from laughing and can never relate it to anyone else.

Apparently Shinichi Mochizuki essentially invented a whole new branch of arithmetic geometry in order to complete his proof of the abc conjecture. So you have to learn a whole new field of math and then work your way laboriously through the actual proof. There are, according to Castelvecchi, something like four or five people in the whole world capable of doing this. Good luck, guys!