Friday, October 17, 2014

So you think you can do math?

My eleven-year-old son, Sam, has been working on a school project, and I decided he should be my guest blogger today because I think the end result turned out so well.  He had to research and write about a mathematician, and what he came up with was so funny and creative.  I've always loved to write, but I have also always struggled with this sort of assignment.  I can imagine that if it were my project, I would have come up with something quite dull by comparison.  Now, I just wish I had a video of him reading this to his class.  He was disappointed this morning that he didn't have a wig to wear.  Poor kid.  Next time, plan ahead.

My name is Sophie Germain. I was told to read off these questions here, some sort of dumb, talk-show type of thing. First question here... "Who ARE you?" I was born on April 1, 1776, and I died June 27th, 1831. I'm a female mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. "What did you do in life?" asks another beautiful fan. As a child, despite my parents opposition, I read my father's books from his library and connected with a lot of famous mathematicians such as Lagrange, Legendre, and Gauss. They all had weird names, not sure why exactly. But anyway, when I grew up, I became very interested in the "Elasticity Theory." This theory basically means if I were to bend the new iPhone 6 into a complete right angle, it would return to its original shape, such as a rubber band. This applied to any solid object, not just these new-fangled cell-phones. I became one of the earliest pioneers of this "Elasticity Theory", and ended up winning the grand prize from the Paris Acadamy of Sciences for my essay on the subject. My mommy was definitely proud.

Speaking of my mother, she would like to ask, "What else did you do in your lifetime, other then sit around?" She also says she hasn't forgotten about my room I never cleaned up. Anyway, I worked a lot on "Fermat's Last Theorem, and due to my general awesomeness, I provided a foundation for mathematicians to explore this subject for centuries after. Because I'm a woman, I was unable to make a career out of mathematics, but I worked independently throughout my life. In recognition of my contribution to mathmatics, an honorary degree was granted upon me six years after my death. The Academy of Sciences established "The Sophie Germain Prize" in my honor, not to mention a street and a girl's school were named after me. Bet you can't say that about you, huh?
"What about your teen years?" another devoted fan asks me. When I was thirteen, the French Revolution happened. With my small thirteen-year-old brain, I thought someone had stolen a baguette or something, and now everyone was mad. But it was different, and the revolutionary atmosphere forced me to stay inside, which is why I am so pale today! For entertainment, I immediately went to my father's library, but remember, there was no "Captain Underpants" for me. Instead, I found the book J. E. Montucla's L'Histoire des Mathématiques, and his story of the death of Archimedes intrigued me. "What happened then?", you may ask. I figured if geometry could fascinate Archimedes so much, it was a subject to study for me. I read every book in my father's library about mathematics. I taught myself Latin and Greek just so I could read some books in that language.
"What did your parents think of all this?" asks a snobby man who clearly dislikes me. My parents did not approve of this at all. They thought it was horrible I was into mathematics, which was apparently "inappropriate for a woman." When the nights came, I was denied warm clothes and a fire for my bedroom, but that didn't stop me. I studied much, and for a period of time, even my own mother was secretly helping me. Thanks Mommy!
And finally, the last question, "What was your correspondence with Legendre and Gauss?" I became interested in the number theory in 1789, when Legendre published his "Essay on the Theory of Numbers." After studying his work, I responded to him on the theory, and later we showed a love for "Elasticity Theory." He even called my work "Very ingenious." I'm so cool!
Thats all for today folks! I'm going to go make a sandwich then go to sleep. Goodbye everyone! See you next week on, "So you think you can do math?"

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