A Dearth of Photocopiers

Mario Livio recounts this episode in the life of Évariste Galois. It strikes me as possible only at a time when paper was expensive and the making of copies labour-intensive.

In June 1829, the Academy of Sciences announced the establishment of a new Grand Prix for Mathematics. […] The work was entered in February 1830, shortly before the March 1 deadline. […] For reasons that are not entirely clear, the academy’s secretary, Fourier, took the manuscript home. He died on May 16, and the manuscript was never recovered among his papers. Consequently, entirely unbeknownst to Galois, his entry was never even considered for the prize. […] You can imagine Galois’s anger when he learned eventually that his own manuscript had been lost. The paranoid young man was now convinced that all the forces of mediocrity had untied to deny him a well-deserved repute.

The Equation That Couldn’t be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry

And so for day 1817

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