Thursday, August 09, 2007


I`m never too sure what blogs are supposed to be used for. Wikipedia`s definition says:-

"Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries."

As you may have noticed, dear reader, mine tends to be used for a number of things - insightful commentaries on things that are going on in the world; rants against stupidity (normally associated with the antics of our politicians;) reminiscences over a long life full of experiences in places I have known and, of course, the fortunes of Southampton Football Club.

However, perhaps the time has come for me to use this blog to perform a vital function, one that is of crucial importance to the `senior citizens` of this world - namely, as nothing more than a reminder of things that may have slipped the memory.

It`s a sad truth that the older I become (three score years and ten are looming on the near horizon) the more I seem to forget things. I come upstairs for something and by the time I`ve reached the top, I`ve forgotten what it was. I can`t remember what amnesia means and quite often I can`t remember what it is I have forgotten.

For some time, something has been niggling away in the back of my mind about the number 26.

I knew I had read or heard about some unique property associated with 26, but I couldn`t recall what it was. I hate things like that, so I searched the internet without any luck (possibly because I wasn`t sure what to search for) and finally, in desperation, I stayed up until the early hours of this morning combing through my extensive and eclectic library until I found it
What is so very special about 26 is this - it is the only number in the whole panoply of numbers from one to infinity and beyond which is sandwiched between a squared number and a cubed number (25 = 5x 5; 27 = 3 x 3 x 3) and it was our old friend Fermat, pictured above - he of the famous last theorem - that not only discovered this fact but also a proof for it, which turned out to be infinitely more difficult than the fact itself. So, 26 is, indeed, a very special number. Fascinating, isn`t it? But I expect you knew that anyway.

So, having recalled it to mind, having `blogged` it, I will know in future where to look should it slip my mind again. Maybe now I can also remind myself of the other things I have forgotten - prime numbers, perfect numbers, Pythagorean triples and other wonders of the elegant world of mathematics. Now, what was it I came upstairs for?

I bet Andrew Wiles doesn`t have these problems - have a look at

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