A Mathematical Mystery Tour

A fascinating BBC Horizon program from 1984 looking at the greatest unsolved problems in mathematics including Fermat’s Last Theorem (since solved), The Goldback Conjecture, The Riemann hypothesis, the P=NP Problem, and more. Featuring interviews with many modern mathematicians, this documentary also looks at the history of maths and some of if it’s major players from Euclid to Bertrand Russell.

In discussing the fact that proof requires more than calculated verification reference is made to the Merten Conjecture. A conjecture which was disproved in 1984, despite holding firm for 99 years and having been verified on computer up to the first 10 billion numbers. A fact that makes us think about the things in our own lives which, with far less evidence, we consider to be certainties.

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  1. A great documentary regarding the history, logic, and accuracy of mathematics. Of course, to err is human, even when making documentaries. The reason I state this irony, is that the number (value) listed for PI in the documentary is incorrect, beginning at the 12th digit. The only reason it was obvious to me is because I happen to remember the value of PI to at least 30 digits.

    With that said, don’t let this error discredit the value of the documentary itself. It is a great watch, assuming the viewer finds the topic interesting to begin with!