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Monday, January 10, 2011

Time to start debunking Euler ?

Some names are only to be spoken of with respect.

Apple has been around a lot longer than Google. Apple created the i-Tunes software and related store where you can buy songs for only $0.99 and they created the i-Phone gadget. If you are a fan of that gadget I am sure you bought at least four of them in the last three years although the first one is still working it doesn't look that good compared to the i-Phone 4. Besides that Apple created billions of cash for Steve Jobs who has no intention to share it with the poor like Bill Gates from Microsoft does. - Google on the other hand created free software like gmail, google docs and google maps, a free feature we take for granted. Oh, and they created Google Search of course. Since a while, also thanks to Google, we have digital access to the books of Leonhard Euler ( and all the other great mathematicians of course ).

Have a look at the page where Euler defines the number Pi, here at Google Books. ( If you don't read Latin, why not use Google Translate? ) I checked the first 120 decimals of Euler's Pi with those from Mathematica 8 (2010) . They are exactly the same.

When I looked at Pi in 120 decimals I knew immediately that Euler did not make these calculations by himself. He just could not. OK, he was a genius but he did not have more -time- than a mere humanoid like us. How many hours ( if not days, i.e. check double-check ) would it have cost to do that calculation? It's not just -that- calculation. It's about the sheer size and depth of his legacy. Although Euler was still an active mathematician when he died at age 76, it is beyond the capabilities of one human being to create that in one lifetime.

Euler must have used students and computing staff to write his books. We know that he was blind during the last years of his life but even in that period he continued to publish. Perhaps 'Euler' was merely a brand. I don't know. Who was 'Euler'?

Perhaps the comparison of Euler with Ramanujan would be somewhat like a comparison of Rembrandt with van Gogh. We know for sure that everything we read in Ramanujan's notebooks is written by Ramanujan himself. I am not sure that everything in the books of Euler is written by Euler himself, the same is true for Rembrandt and are the cause of the fact that so many Rembrandt's turned out to be work of his students.

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