As a result he was speared to death. Germain concluded that if somebody could be so consumed by a geometric problem that it could lead to their death, then mathematics must be the most captivating subject in the world. She immediately set about teaching herself the basics of number theory and calculus, and soon she was working late into the night studying the works of Euler and Newton.
But this sudden interest in such an unfeminine subject worried her parents and they tried desperately to deter her. Libri-Carrucci claimed that the winter nights were so cold that the ink froze in the inkwell, but Sophie continued regardless. She was described by some people as shy and awkward, but undoubtedly she was also immensely determined. Eventually her parents relented and gave Sophie their blessing.
Germain never married and throughout her career her father funded her research and supported her efforts to break into the community of mathematicians. For many years this was the only encouragement she received because there were no mathematicians in the family who could introduce her to the latest ideas and her tutors refused to take her seriously. In the Ecole Polytechnique opened in Paris. It was founded as an academy of excellence to train mathematicians and scientists for the nation. This would have been an ideal place for Germain to develop her mathematical skills except for the fact that it was an institution reserved only for men.
Germain managed to obtain what was intended for Le Blanc, and each week she would submit answers to the problems under her new pseudonym. Lagrange, who was one of the finest mathematicians of the nineteenth century, requested a meeting with the reformed student and Germain was forced to reveal her true identity. Lagrange was astonished and pleased to meet the young woman and became her mentor and friend. At last Sophie Germain had a teacher who could inspire her, and with whom she could be open about her skills and ambitions.
Germain grew in confidence and she moved from solving problems in her coursework to studying unexplored areas of mathematics. She worked on the problem for several years, eventually reaching the stage where she believed she had made an important breakthrough. She needed to discuss her ideas with a fellow number theorist and decided that she would go straight to the top and consult the greatest number theorist in the world, the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss.
Gauss is widely acknowledged as being the most brilliant mathematician who has ever lived. While E. In one letter he even displayed contempt for the problem. Gauss was entitled to his opinion, but Fermat had clearly stated that a proof existed. Historians have suspect that in the past Gauss had tried and failed to make any impact on the problem, and his response to Olbers was merely a case of intellectual sour grapes.
Germain had adopted a new approach to the problem which was far more general than previous strategies. Her immediate goal was not to prove that one particular equation had no solutions, but to say something about several equations.
In her letter to Gauss she outlined a calculation which focused those equations in which n is equal to a particular type of prime number. Prime numbers are those numbers which have no divisors. For example, 11 is a prime number because 11 has no divisors, i.
On the other hand, 12 is not a prime number because several numbers will divide into 12, i. For values of n equal to these Germain primes, she could show that there were probably no solutions to the equation:. This put a very tight restriction on any solutions. Her colleagues examined her list of primes one by one trying to prove that x, y, or z could not be a multiple of n, therefore showing that for that particular value of n there could be no solutions. In her method claimed its first complete success thanks to Johann Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet and Adrien-Marie Legendre, two mathematicians a generation apart.
Legendre was a man in his seventies who had lived through the political turmoil of the French Revolution. On the other hand Dirichlet, was a brilliant young number theorist who had only just turned twenty. Fourteen years later the French made another breakthrough. When Germain wrote to Gauss she was still in her twenties, and although she had gained a reputation in Paris, she feared that the great man would not take her seriously because of her gender.
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There are lots of options this year! To download the Conference Schedule Grid, please click this link. This room rate is also availble for the days immediately preceding and proceding conference, May 27 - June 2, so you may also choose to make a week or weekend getaway! To book your hotel in the Waterfront Tower as a part of the conference block:. As always if you have any questions or concerns please reach out to the Conference Committee Co-Chairs at njlaconference njlamembers.
We hope to see you in Atlantic City! As we work on finalizing our preconference and breakout session schedule, we thought we'd share with you our exciting keynote announcements! On Thursday, May 30, , Dr. Nell Irvin Painter is a distinguished and award winning scholar and writer. She is the author of seven books and countless articles relating to the history of the American South.
She received her Ph. On Friday, May 31, , Chris Bohjalian will be speaking about his life and work. Critically acclaimed novelist Chris Bohjalian uses his gripping fiction to explore contemporary social issues and how they play out in the lives of ordinary people, as well as to shed light on some of the most important moments in history. Being riveted by a plot twist that is utterly surprising but, you realize, perfect, because it was inevitable. We're very excited about our keynote line-up, and will have more information about our finalized conference schedule in the coming days, so stay tuned and get excited to be Engaged and Inspired!
The Conference Committee will be reviewing all proposals soon and will reach out sometime in the New Year with acceptances and more information on other ways to get involved in conference.
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In the mean time, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Conference Committee at njlaconference njlamembers. The program proposal form must be filled out completely online and submitted by Friday, December 7, to be considered for approval for the NJLA Conference:. And as always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Conference Co-Chairs at njlaconference njlamembers. We are very much looking forward to the engagement, inspiration, and wealth and diversity of expertise that will come from our speakers and programs!
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Sophie Germain | Simon Singh
Skip to main content. Online Registration Ends May 15th. The program proposal form must be filled out completely online and submitted by Friday, November 30, to be considered for approval for the NJLA Conference: Submit your proposal here! Poster sessions feature innovative library program ideas, success stories, research studies, problem solving and more!