Monday, September 08, 2008

last word on arthur c. clark - The Last Theorem

i just read the not very goood last book (called the last theoren) by arthur c. clark (with frederick pohl) - i'd love to know how much ACC actually put in to this - it has some typical arthurian moments, but is in general not great - i was also dismayed at the (airport edition) number of typos - two things struck me
1. the use of the term "oxcam" to describe a 4th generation indian-uk immigrant's accent - oxbridge, surely? and the phrase "arab republic of egypt" - i wasn't aware egpytions called themselves arabs...oh well (wikipedia claims similar)

but worse was to come - despite Wiles' proof of Fermat's last theorem, one of the author's claims that there will perhaps never be a "short" proof (in the sense that Fermat probably thought he had found, as the problem might be allegedly "undecidable".
That's plain wrong, since we have a proof, we can terminate any checker on another proof. Does the author mean that the existence of a shorter proof is undecidable, perhaps? that might well be true...or do they mean something more subtle?

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