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Prime Mystery: Sophie Germain and Fermat's Last Theorem by Dora Musielak

Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics

DORA MUSIELAK, Research Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, will deliver the tenth talk of the CSHPM Online Colloquium series.

DATE: January 15th
TIME: UTC 19:00; Vancouver 11:00; Edmonton 12:00; Regina/Winnipeg 13:00; Montreal/Toronto 14:00; Halifax 15:00; St. John's 15:30

TITLE: Prime Mystery: Sophie Germain and Fermat's Last Theorem
ABSTRACT: Euler wrote to Goldbach on 4 August 1753 that he had proved Fermat's (last) theorem in the case n=3, observing that the proof seemed very different from the proof for the case n=4, and that a proof of the general case still seemed remote. In 1804, Sophie Germain wrote to Gauss, stating that she could "prove that x^n+y^n=z^n is impossible if n=p-1, where p is a prime of form 8k+7." Gauss was silent in the matter. However, Legendre paid attention to Germain's unique approach to prove Fermat's theorem, distinctively different from Euler's. Twenty years later, Legendre added Germain's theorem to his indeterminate analysis particularly focused on Fermat's theorem, in a memoir which became the second supplement to Legendre's *Théorie des Nombres*. In this talk, I will present the history and the enigmas that surround this crucial aspect of Sophie Germain's contribution to mathematics.

The Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics ( invites members as well as the broader scholarly community to the next talk in our online colloquium series via Zoom. Participants are encouraged to become members (for as little as $10-$30/year, depending on your employment status), but it is not required. Non-members can get regular updates on our activities by liking us on Facebook ( The talk will last 30 minutes, followed by a Q&A.

The information to join the session via Zoom is as follows:

Nicolas Fillion is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Your participation will result in the disclosure of personal information to Zoom Video Communications. To consent to this disclosure, visit the link below.

Topic: CSHPM Online Colloquium: Dora Musielak
Time: Jan 15, 2021 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 655 7474 2804
Password: 119644

Mathematicians call on their colleagues and on mathematical societies to support the Egyptian mathematician Laila Soueif and her children

Laila Soueif  is a Professor of Mathematics at Cairo University and a founder of the March 9 Movement for University Autonomy in Egypt, and she and her family know all too well Egypt’s political repression. See more information about her here.

When the press is severely muzzled, supporters of human rights and democracy urgently need international support. Currently Laila Soueif continues to  struggle for the release of her two children.

Signatories of the call ask their colleagues as well as mathematical societies to support her and her children by writing to relevant authorities. See more here.

Susan Scott co-recipient of the 2020 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science

Professor Susan Scott of the Australian National University was one of four scientists — and the first female physicist — to be awarded Australia's top science prize for their pioneering work discovering gravitational waves opening a new window to the universe.

She shares the $250,000 Prime Minister's Prize for Science with David Blair, of the University of Western Australia (UWA), Peter Veitch of the University of Adelaide, and David McClelland of the Australian National University.

More here.

Impact of parenthood on careers in STEM: a survey from Mothers in Science

The non-profit organization Mothers in Science is conducting an international survey to address the systemic career obstacles and inequalities faced by parents in STEM (pre-pandemic), which have been recently magnified by the coronavirus pandemic- especially for mothers. The data from this survey will help us to raise awareness and create long-lasting solutions for increasing the retention of women in STEM careers and for promoting workplace equality and inclusion. 


The survey is directed to mothers and fathers, but participants without children are also needed.


This survey is being conducted in collaboration with Washington University in St Louis500 Women ScientistsINWESParent in Science and Femmes & Sciences.
It is is available here. The deadline for answering if 15 December 2020.

CWM Call 2021

The CWM 2021 call for Networks, Workshops and other Initiatives is opened till 15 December 2020.

Because of the COVID crisis, (totally or partially) virtual on-line events are welcome and non -virtual projects should explain their plans in case they have to turn virtual.

There will be no other CWM call for applications regarding activities in 2021.

Standing Committe for Gender Equality in Science

The Standing Committee for Gender Equality in Science was established by 9 International Unions, including IMU. Its purpose is to circulate information among its partners, and promote cooperation on initiative for gender equality in science among them, and between them and other organizations, in particular by supporting women and girls’ equal access to science education and fostering equal opportunity and treatment for females in their careers.

IMU representative inside SCGES is Marie-Françoise Roy, CWM chair, with deputy representative Carolina Araujo, CWM vice-chair.


Nalina Anantharaman, 2020 Nemmers Prize in Mathematics winner

Northwestern University has announced the winners of the 2020 Nemmers Prizes in earth sciences, economics and mathematics. The biennial prizes recognize top scholars for their lasting significance, outstanding achievements, contributions to new knowledge and the development of significant new modes of analysis.

This year’s recipients are Nalani Anantharaman for mathematics, Katherine Freeman for earth sciences and Claudia Goldin for economics. Each will receive a $200,000 stipend and will interact with Northwestern faculty and students through lectures, conferences or seminars.

Nalini Anantharaman, Professor, Institute for Advanced Mathematical Research (IRMA) at the University of Strasbourg, is the winner of the Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics. She was selected “for her profound contributions to microlocal analysis and mathematical physics, in particular to problems of localization and delocalization of eigenfunctions.”

A French mathematician, Anantharaman studies quantum chaos, dynamical systems and the Shrödinger equation. More recently, she has studied harmonic analysis on large graphs. She has received several major awards, including the 2012 Henri Poincaré Prize, the Salem Prize, the Grand Prix Jacques Herbrand and the Infosys Prize.

Three women receive the IMU Breakout Graduate Fellowship grants

The IMU Breakout Graduate Fellowship Program awarded three students a grant to complete a PhD program in their home countries: Benin, Indonesia and Uganda. The three of them are women and CWM wishes to congratulate them !

Christelle Judith Agonkoui is a Beninese PhD student at the Institute of Mathematics and Physics (IMSP) of the University Abomey-Calavi.

Annisa Nur Falah is an Indonesian PhD student at Padjadjaran University in Indonesia.

Caroline Namanya is an Ugandan PhD student at the Makerere University in Uganda.

Rita Pardini awarded with the Tartufari Prize from Lincei Academy

Rita Pardini, full professor of Geometry at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Pisa, won the international prize "Luigi Tartufari" for Mathematics 2020 edition of the National Academy of Lincei, ex-aequo with Valentino Tosatti of Northwestern University (USA ). "The algebraic taste, rigor and elegance characterize her extremely valuable production" is the judgment that emerges from the jury's motivation that awarded the prize to the professor.